The adaptive significance of phenotypic plasticity in marine phototrophs
Understanding the link between phenotypes and their environment is of fundamental importance in biology. All organisms live in variable environments, but this is amplified for microscopic plankton because they are transported by ocean currents. Laboratory experiments show that phytoplankton respond dynamically to changes in their growth conditions, and that relatively small adjustments can have disproportionately large impacts on growth rate, metabolism, resource acquisition, sinking and grazer resistance. This seminar will use ocean circulation models and trait measurements conducted on oceanographic voyages to explore the ecological and potential evolutionary significance of phytoplankton drifting through dynamic seascapes.
A/Prof Martina Doblin leads the Productive Coasts research program at the University of Technology Sydney. She has conducted fundamental ecological research on algae for more than 15 years, and has translated her scientific research into policy and practice for numerous aquatic industries (e.g. water management, shipping) to improve environmental outcomes. She is interested in the resilience of algal communities to deal with short and long-term environmental change – not only to cope with contemporary shifts in climate, but also to harness nature’s innovations and put them to effective use in bio-industries.