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Marleen Stuhr

Institution: Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Room: ZMT, room 1302
Phone: +49 421 23800 - 132
E-mail: [Bitte aktivieren Sie Javascript]
Other webpage(s): Marleen's ZMT web page
Marleen Stuhr

PhD project:

(Reverse) Proteomics as novel tool for biodiversity research

Biodiversity is of great ecological and economical importance and especially coral reefs, are suffering from ocean acidification and global warming. Benthic foraminiferas are very abundant in recent reef communities, often constituting major components in modern and ancient sediments and widely used as environmental record. Many larger benthic foraminiferas harbour photosynthetic symbionts. The genus Amphistegina is one of the most abundant taxa in recent sediments as well as in the fossil record of the last 50 myr, representing sensitive bio-indicators and palaeo-ecological proxies. They do not only respond to stress by loss of their symbionts but also show cytological damage and changes in shell (called test) morphology, thus in bio-mineralization and test formation. This might be related to changed protein synthesis and expression patterns, influencing the carbonate secretion. Nevertheless, there is a lack in information of genetic profiles of benthic foraminifera, especially from tropical regions, and they remain an evolutionary and molecular mystery. Based on test shape alone, foraminifera identification largely disregards their high morphological plasticity. Usually, plasticity is a direct and systematic consequence of environmental conditions. Individuals react and develop in different ways in response to their environment, according to variations in their genome (resulting in structural differences in proteins or temporal and spatial protein expression patterns). Therefore, diversity on an intra-species molecular level is essential for evolutionary potential and resilience.

Within this project, Amphistegina species and their photosynthetic endo-symbionts will be studied from different locations in the field and cultured populations in the aquarium. New methodologies are tailored in a joint cooperation project to convey foraminifera samples into protein based taxonomic classification by “reverse” (proteome based) annotation. Linking this to experimental studies on molecular responses to environmental stressors and changes in morphologies will offer deeper insights into adaptation strategies in foraminifera and give new possibilities for environmental assessment.

Thesis committee:

Prof. Dr. Hildegard WestphalLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Prof. Dr. Michal KuceraUniversity of Bremen
Dr. Claire ReymondLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Dr. Astrid GärdesLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Dr. Achim MeyerLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen