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Biological consequences of global climate change. The effects of salinity and temperature in extremophilic algae.


The overall goal of this project is to investigate the physiological and chemical adjustments incurred by photosynthetic algae to parameters affected by global climate change, namely changes in salinity, temperature and light. Furthermore we are aiming to contribute to European scientific research by filling an important gap in climate modelling systems by examining and potentially enabling the prediction of volatile organic sulphur compounds (VOSC) production in marine algae. Aquatic phytoplankton have two important roles in global geochemical cycles affecting climate change. First, through photosynthesis they assimilate 40 % of all CO2 flowing through the global carbon budget. Second, marine algae can contribute to global sulphur fluxes through the product ion of volatile organic sulphur compounds (VOSCs). These processes work in parallel to counteract global warming by fixing carbon while the production of VOSCs counteracts global warming through enhanced cloud albedo. Of these latter compounds, dimethylsul phonioproprionate (DMSP) is the primary source of global sulphur and contributes between 48-100% of the sulphur fluxes in the subpolar North Atlantic waters. The ability to predict the concentration and fluxes of DMSP in the ocean as well as the release of its degradation products into the atmosphere would greatly enhance climate modelling and to our knowledge has not been possible. During this action we wish to advance the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms governing the biosynthesis of DMSP in alg ae. An extremophile isolated from the water column in a permanently ice-covered Antarctic lake will be used as a highly sensitive test organism for these studies as relatively small disturbances in the environment result in large physiological responses. T his research will not only examine the independent effects of changes in salinity, temperature and light on VOSC production but will investigate their synergistic effects.

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Holmgatan 10

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