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Tracking carbon and nitrogen fixing organisms in the oceanic microbiome

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Complex marine microbial communities catalyze global cycling of carbon and nitrogen that regulate the Earth’s climate. Our ability to interrogate these processes in situ and identify the key chemical transformations mediated by microbes is critical to our ability to understand these fundamental processes.
High-throughput next-generation sequencing and single-cell approaches are revolutionizing our understanding of such microbial processes. Examples include the recent identification of new yet ubiquitous symbiotic N2-fixing diazotrophs in the marine nitrogen cycle, or important nitrite-oxidizing bacteria long hidden in plain sight in worldwide oceans. Here we will combine established microbial oceanographic methods with an array of cutting-edge single-cell RAMAN microspectroscopy approaches. RAMAN provides a chemical fingerprint of individual microbial cells, thus providing the functional properties of community members at the single-cell level.
Central to the global cycling of carbon and nitrogen are diazotrophs, which perform both oxygenic carbon fixation and anoxygenic nitrogen fixation. How diazotrophs microbes regulate these processes and how the fixed carbon and nitrogen are then transferred to the wider microbial community remain major unanswered questions that underpin how ‘new’ carbon and nitrogen enters the oceanic ecosystems. This project will develop techniques to interrogate these processes using both cultured samples and samples collected over relevant oceanic gradients.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


Jing, X., Gou, H., Gong, Y., Su, X., Xu, L. Ji, Y. Song, Y., Thompson, I.P., Xu, J. Huang, W.E. (2018) Raman-activated cell sorting and metagenomic sequencing revealing carbon-fixing bacteria in the ocean. Environmental Microbiology 20:2241-2255.

Füssel, J., Lücker, S., Yilmaz, P., Nowka, B., van Kessel, M. A. H. J., Bourceau, P., ... Lam, P. (2017). Adaptability as the key to success for the ubiquitous marine nitrite oxidizer Nitrococcus. Science Advances, 3(11), [e1700807]. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700807

Polyviou, D., Baylay, A. J., Hitchcock, A., Robidart, J., Moore, C. M., & Bibby, T. (2018). Desert dust as a source of iron to the globally important diazotroph Trichodesmium. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8, [2683]. DOI: doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02683

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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