Faculty Candidate Seminar - Alison Murray

02/16/2016 - 2:00pm
Hubbs Hall 4500
Event Description: 


DATE:  February 16th, Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.  

LOCATION:  Hubbs Hall 4500
SPEAKER:   Alison Murray, Ph.D.
Desert Research Institute

TITLE:  Big picture views from the very small: microbial community structure and adaptation to polar extreme environments

Polar ecosystems are among the most sensitive on Earth to climate change, but the ways in which environmental changes will reverberate through microbial food webs, via changes in plankton diversity, the biological carbon pump, and other aspects of ecosystem function are almost completely unknown. Knowledge of the diversity and dynamics of microbial life in polar environments has been limited until recently, and microbial life under ice shelves and in ice-entrained and sub-glacial lake systems is now being studied for the first time. My research aims to provide an integrated understanding of how the physiochemical environment interacts with microbial diversity, genome-encoded and expressed function in polar ecosystems. Examples from studies in two distinct systems reveal the sensitivity of microbial community structure and function to temporal shifts over the annual cycle in the coastal ocean, and unique biogeochemical processes and cellular adaptations in an isolated ice-entrained frozen lake. These previously uncharacterized cycles and ecosystems provide valuable insights into biological adaptation and unique trophic strategies, but are at risk, given predicted warming scenarios. I will also discuss the need for interdisciplinary research efforts to catalyze new understanding of the ways in which rapidly changing environmental conditions including temperature increases, shifting water masses, reduced sea ice, and freshwater inputs from glaciers and ice sheets in polar ecosystems may modify the microbiota that underlie fundamental biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functions. 
Faculty Host:   Andy Allen (aallen@ucsd.edu)
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