Life Science Hour Seminar Series

Name:Eric Collins
 Assistant Professor of Biological Oceanography. College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, UAF.
Title:Mapping the uncharted diversity of arctic marine microbes
Date:Friday, 24 February 2017
Location:Murie Life Science Bldg, Murie Auditorium.


In this talk I will present recent results on the microbial diversity present in Arctic marine environments including seawater, sea ice, and melt ponds across the western Arctic. Using shotgun metagenomic and metabarcoding techniques, we investigate the diversity and functionality of Arctic bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists, and everything in between. Ongoing projects include identifying the effects of crude oil on sea ice microbial communities, the influence of trace metal availability on under-ice microbial communities at the North Pole, the threat of fungal parasites to sea ice primary production, and the relative importance of abiotic versus biotic factors in controlling the microbial diversity of waters flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the south. Insights into these and other microbial communities are used to build a conceptual model of 'diversity flux' for the Arctic Ocean, which has known and well defined inflows and outflows of heat, salinity, and nutrients, but essentially unknown inputs, outputs, or residence times for microbial genetic diversity. I will also demonstrate a new visualization technique for microbial community diversity based on constrained, landmarked multidimensional scaling (MDS).

About the Speaker:

Eric Collins is Assistant Professor of Biological Oceanography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Institute of Marine Science. Depending on who is asking, he alternately describes himself as a ‘biological oceanographer’, ‘marine microbiologist’, ‘microbial ecologist’, ‘molecular ecologist’, ‘bioinformatician’, or ‘astrobiologist’. Eric is involved in several projects linking the diversity and distribution of microorganisms with their evolutionary histories as seen through the lens of genomics. With a particular interest in extreme environments, Eric has traveled north of the Arctic Circle in 6 different countries, including on a 550km ski traverse of the Greenland ice sheet in 2014.

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