Areas of expertise
Current Academy research project: Fungal parasitism along a salinity gradient: an overlooked driver of marine phytoplankton blooms.
Do phytoplankton species have parasites? Yes, they do! And why should we care?
Phytoplankton provide about 50% of all available oxygen on earth, are an important food source for higher trophic levels and function as a significant sink for atmospheric carbon. Changes in phytoplankton abundance and productivity by parasite infections can consequently have a strong impact on Earth's climate.
This project seeks to answer fundamental questions regarding an enigmatic group of fungal phytoplankton parasites (Chytridiomycota):
- Which species are present?
- How abundant are they?
- Can they control phytoplankton blooms?
- And how will climate related changes in marine salinity affect the interaction between fungal parasites and their phytoplankton hosts?
Classical cultivation together with progressive molecular methods and live cell imaging approaches are used to characterize biodiversity, environmental host refuges as well as identify conditions optimal and detrimental for parasite transmission along the Baltic Sea salinity gradient.