The project “Proteomic approaches to assess the oceanic Nitrogen biogeochemistry – ProteoN” has 3 major research objectives. In summary, these are the development of a novel, high-throughput proteomic approach by combining state-of-the-art mass spectrometric and molecular biological techniques. This unique approach links the metabolic activity of organisms to their identity by assessing the proteins in a given sample. The developed approach will be established using a characterized model system. The novel approach will then be applied to a contemporary research issue of international interest. Specifically, this objective will compare the nitrogen (N) biogeochemistry of two ocean basins and aims at evidence for or against the hypothesis (published in 2007 by peer scientists) that the Pacific is a site of high N2 fixation with higher rates than in the Atlantic Ocean. N2 fixation is the main source of fixed N in the open ocean and is a crucial player in primary production and hence the air-sea exchange of atmospheric CO2. The skills and knowledge acquired at a prestigious research institution in the U.S.A. will be transferred to an excellent research institution in the ERA (MPI Bremen) and implemented into a study on the short-term effect of dust deposition in the North Atlantic Ocean. Atmospheric dust is the main source of iron to the open ocean, a limiting nutrient for N2 fixation. Dust deposition is subject to global change through increased desertification and changing land use and thus of international research interest. Through the combination of research in a third country with the transfer of skills and knowledge to the ERA, present-day, globally-relevant issues can be assessed at the international level in addition to strengthening the individual as well as the institutional network. The implementation of novel, state-of-the-art assessments of the environment will enhance the European research excellence and increase the competitiveness of European research.
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