Ann Tarrant (WHOI), Leocadio Blanco Bercial (BIOS), Gareth Lawson (WHOI)
Although pteropods have become the focus of much public and research interest, due to their sensitivity to ocean acidification, much of their basic biology remains unknown. Using molecular tools in conjunction with organismal physiology and distributional studies, I am seeking to understand the basic science behind how and where these zooplankton live. One thrust of this project is to assemble a transcriptome, a map of the RNA which is expressed under different environmental conditions, for populations of Clio pyramidata which have been exposed to high CO2 and normal CO2 conditions (Maas et al, in review).
Another ongoing project is the use of molecular tools in conjunction with morphological analysis to try to understand pteropod taxonomy and therefore their biology. Within the pteropod group, there remains a great deal of uncertainty in our assessment of population distribution and species identification. With the help of DNA barcoding, which explores variations at the gene level, I am exploring how shell shape, which has classically been used to differentiate between species, correlates (or not) to different populations or species of Diacavolinia in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean (Maas, Blanco Bercial and Lawson, 2013 PLoS ONE). Accurate species identifications is ciritical information in regards of estimation of biodiversity, range extent and natural exposure of these planktonic calcifiers to environmental variability.