Microbes from the Black Sea – exploring novel anaerobes

The ocean is filled with an incredible number of microorganisms. They fulfil crucial roles for our environment, but are often not available as pure laboratory culture for detailed research.

This especially applies to anaerobic microorganisms (anaerobes), which are found in the anoxic waters underneath the more productive surface regions, but also in anoxic subsurface sediments. These anaerobes are known to consume or produce important nutrients, such as ammonium or nitrate, and atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide or methane.

The Black Sea is the world’s largest anoxic basin. The oxic top layer and the anoxic, sulfidic bottom layer are permanently separated by a stable gradient in redox state, in which nitrogen, manganese and sulfur compounds are cycled by microbes for energy generation.  This gradient is an excellent environment to study the diverse metabolisms of marine anaerobes. Therefore, we obtained Black Sea samples during the 2016 SIAM cruise aboard the NIOZ research vessel Pelagia (see image). 

Our aim is to bring yet-uncultured marine anaerobes of known potential importance into pure culture, in order to study their physiology. Additionally, we investigate the ecological relevance of our isolates with molecular biology tools and environmental –omics data.

During a thesis within this project, you could apply or learn the following techniques:

•         Anaerobic cultivation in anaerobic vials and/or anaerobic reactors

•         Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH)

•         Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics

•         Energetic and thermodynamic calculations

Are you interested in doing a thesis within this project, or would you like to know more? Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.