Some of the most striking examples of symbioses are between N2 fixing cyanobacteria and planktonic eukaryotic populations of diatoms. These partnerships are highly specific and quite common in low nutrient areas of the open ocean and are considered a major source of new nitrogen and primary production. To date, we know that N2 is fixed by the symbiotic cyanobacteria and transferred to the host diatom. Genomes were recently sequenced for several of the symbiotic cyanobacteria, however, we know precious little about the diversity of the host diatoms and what (if any) is the benefit to the symbiont in the partnership. The primary aims of the project will investigate the diversity, function, and metabolic activity of the eukaryotic host diatoms. None of the symbioses have been brought into culture so efforts to isolate the symbioses will also be included. Previously described methods for stable isotope probing (SIP) and molecular diversity (standard PCR and sequencing) will be used. New methods for single cell genome sequencing and imaging will be developed. International field investigations, including expeditions on research cruises, are expected.
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