Proteorhodopsin (PR) phototrophy represents a recently discovered process for solar energy harvesting for non photosynthetic bacteria in the global ocean. Despite its widespread abundance, the ecophysiological and ecological functions of PR phototrophy, the specific metabolic processes that mediate PR-enhanced growth or survival and the role of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) composition in determining the responses of different PR-containing bacteria to light remain unexplored. This project is a multidisciplinary study that will provide novel insights into the interactions between DOC quality and the genetic regulation of central metabolic pathways that critically determine the fitness of bacteria engaging in PR phototrophy in the ocean surface. Three different sets of experiments will be performed: a) experiments with mono-specific cultures, b) experiments with natural assemblages and c) field studies in the Baltic sea. The responses to light under different organic compounds availability will be determined by growth and metabolic rates measurements, genome-wide transcriptomics and meta-transcriptomics and real-time quantitative PCR. This innovative and timely project relies on ‘state of the art’ methodologies in the research field. The quality of the project, the renowned expertise of Dr. Pinhassi and the proven work capacity and independent thinking of Dr. Martinez Garcia will surely make this a successful project that will generate high profile publications and will profoundly impact the specific research field. Furthermore, it represents a coherent next step in the applicant’s aim to become an independent and mature scientist due to its important training opportunities in both research expertise (i.e. molecular biology) and complementary skills (i.e. leadership and management). The benefits for the ERA are given through the invaluable training of the applicant, the research exchange between different excelled institutions and the high quality results expected.
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