DRI Researcher Earns Grant to Study the Seasonal Genetic Variations of Antarctic Microscopic Plants

A DRI researcher will lead a team that is heading to Antarctica to study the molecular biology, and evolution of microscopic organisms.

Sample collection and weather make sampling in Antarctica challenging. Joe Grzymski and field technician Alison Kelley head out to collect samples off of Palmer Station, Antarctica on a gloomy, icy day.Sample collection and weather make sampling in Antarctica challenging. Joe Grzymski and field technician Alison Kelley head out to collect samples off of Palmer Station, Antarctica on a gloomy, icy day.The National Science Foundation announced a nearly $500,000 award to DRI’s Joseph Grzymski for the project "Collaborative Research: Functional Genomics and Physiological Ecology of Seasonal Succession in Antarctic Phytoplankton: Adaptations to Light and Temperature."

During a field season at Palmer Station, Antarctica, Grzymski and his colleagues will investigate how the Antarctic marine phytoplankton evolves, adapts functions from a cold dark winter to a warmer, brighter spring.

“We will use Antarctic organisms as models of evolution given the harsh conditions of survival that they must make during the Antarctic seasonal changes while studying organisms that are being impacted by climate change,” Grzymski said.

The knowledge will be used to advance the understanding of evolution of organisms to harsh environments.

“Antarctic organisms are optimized for growth and proliferation under extreme conditions; we are especially interested in how these organisms respond to changing environmental conditions such as ultraviolent rays, nutrients and temperature as these changes tend to kick-start adaptive processes.”

Dr. Grzymski will also be training a post doctoral researcher and two undergraduate science majors, as well as engaging local middle school students. He has an extensive career of working in the Antarctic, conducting fieldwork there in 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001 and 2000.

Learn More

Visit the Mission Antarctica website for more information.

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