Boreal forests are important ecosystems involved in global carbon cycling, comprising a fifth of the Earth’s land mass but storing as much as a third of the total carbon and nitrogen budgets. As a global carbon sink, the health and productivity of this ecosystem is important to preventing future increases in carbon dioxide emissions. The nitrogen cycling in these ecosystems is largely determined by feather moss-associated cyanobacteria that fix the majority of nitrogen flowing into boreal ecosystems. As carbon cycling is dependent upon availability of fixed nitrogen, this project is focused on learning more about the interaction between the cyanobacteria and the mosses. One aspect involves sequencing cyanobacteria associated with mosses in order to learn more about how they interact at the molecular level. Another aspect of the project involves a novel setup that allows the cyanobacteria and mosses to communicate without colonizing to better understand what goes on at various stages in the process. The result of this project will be a functional genomic model of both the moss and cyanobacteria with detailed information on the genetic control of this critical ecosystem function.
Proposer’s Name: Philip Weyman