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Biogeochemical interaction of arsenic and phosphate in oligotrophic phosphate-limited oceans

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Salaun
    Dr A Tagliabue
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is an extract of the research project. Simply click on “Apply on-line” above for an instant access to the complete version.

This project will look at the relation between arsenic and phosphorus species to constrain the use of arsenite as a proxy of phosphate limitation. Field studies, laboratory experiments and numerical modeling will take place at varying degrees, depending on the results and research interests of the student. At the core of this exciting project is a fully funded cruise that will sample the subtropical North-Atlantic, crossing key gradients in phosphate concentrations [5]. After training, the successful candidate will measure arsenate, arsenite and total arsenic at sea. By making use of the parallel measurements of phosphate, DOP, APA, as well as the trace metals zinc and iron (which may regulate APA), the student will explore how the coupling between arsenite and phosphorus cycling varies across the subtropical North Atlantic, leading towards mapping the extent of phosphorus limitation. These may be augmented by laboratory studies of arsenic toxicity and cycling using phytoplankton cultures or experiments to assess the residence time of arsenite under different environmental conditions. Ultimately a broader data synthesis of implementation of modeling experiments will permit the results of this exciting study to be placed into a wider context.

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student with relevant marine, chemical and/or biological background. She/He will be working and trained with world leading experts in the area of marine biogeochemistry, analytical chemistry and numerical modeling. He/She will benefit from numerous training opportunities inherent to the Doctoral Training Partnership that joins expertise from Liverpool, Manchester and the National Oceanographic Centre. The student will be part of the third cohort of enthusiastic DTP PhD students and will develop strong interdisciplinary skills through specific training programs, research seminars and an emulating research environment.

Funding Notes

Competitive tuition fee, research costs and stipend (£14,056 tax free) from the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership “Understanding the Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean” (DTP website: led by the University of Liverpool, the National Oceanographic Centre and the University of Manchester. The studentship is granted for a period of 42 months. Further details on eligibility, how to apply, deadlines for applications and interview dates can be found on the website. EU students are eligible for a fee-only award.


[1] Moore JK, Doney SC, Glover DM, Fung IY. Iron cycling and nutrient-limitation patterns in surface waters of the World Ocean. Deep-Sea Res Part II-Top Stud Oceanogr 2002;49:463-507.

[2] Kim I-N, Lee K, Gruber N, Karl DM, Bullister JL, Yang S, et al. Increasing anthropogenic nitrogen in the North Pacific Ocean. Science 2014;346:1102-6.

[3] Mills MM, Ridame C, Davey M, La Roche J, Geider RJ. Iron and phosphorus co-limit nitrogen fixation in the eastern tropical North Atlantic. Nature 2004;429:292-4.

[4] Coleman JE. STRUCTURE AND MECHANISM OF ALKALINE-PHOSPHATASE. Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure 1992;21:441-83.

[5] Wurl O, Zimmer L, Cutter GA. Arsenic and phosphorus biogeochemistry in the ocean: Arsenic species as proxies for P-limitation. Limnol Oceanogr 2013;58:729-40.

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