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Diversity and ecology of polar cyanobacteria: From Captain Scott to climate change
Thursday, 19th January 2023, 19:00 - 20:00Donation
This talk is the SLBI’s Hume Centenary Education Fund lecture for 2023
Cyanobacteria are phototrophic oxygenic gram-negative bacteria and are widely distributed in the Polar Regions from terrestrial shallow lakes in permafrost landscapes, ice shelf meltwater ponds to ice-covered lakes in the Arctic and Antarctica. They are important for primary production and the basis of food webs in many polar freshwater environments.
Cyanobacteria can form benthic phototrophic biofilms and microbial mats, with some of mats having unique three-dimensional macroscopic structures, which are used as modern analogues for life on Early Earth. We use microscopic and sequencing technologies to explore the diversity and ecology of cyanobacteria as well as adaptation mechanisms to polar environmental conditions in particular low temperatures, freezing, variable light conditions and nutrient availability.
Our work on environmental samples, cyanobacteria strains and herbarium specimens collected during the Arctic and Antarctic Expeditions in the 19th century have also provided new insights in the environmental mechanisms that shape their community structure and biogeographic distribution.
Dr Anne Jungblut is Principal Researcher in Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum in London, and also a National Geographic Explorer. She received her degree in Biology from University of Konstanz, Germany, in 2003, and her PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia in 2010. She was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Université Laval and the Centre for Northern Studies before joining the NHM in 2010. The focus of her research is on microbial biodiversity and environmental microbiology in the Polar Regions, agriculture and mine rehabilitation. She has published over 45 peer-reviewed publications, 6 book chapters and a patent. In polar sciences, her research group studies the diversity and ecology of freshwater and soil microbiology in particular cyanobacteria and the effect of environment change on these unique microbial assemblages using environmental DNA, microscopy and culturing technologies.
Her fieldwork in the Polar Regions has brought her to the northern coast of Ellesmere Island and Ward Hunt ice shelf in the Canadian High Arctic. In Antarctica, she has carried out field work on Signy and South Georgia Islands, as well as studies of the microbiology of perennially ice-covered lakes and glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
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