Considered one of the largest but least understood marine biomes, the mesopelagic zone starts some 200 meters (650 feet) below the ocean’s surface and extends another 800 meters. The temperatures in this region range from 20° Celsius closer to the surface of the water to 4° Celsius further down and oxygen levels are poor.
In sequencing samples of bacteria and archaea collected from the mesopelagic zone of the South Atlantic Gyre, located off the eastern coast of South America, researchers hope to learn more about the microorganisms that thrive in this region,. Studies suggest that some microbes in the mesopelagic zone might play significant roles in the carbon and nitrogen cycles, having the ability to fix or sequester these elements, but little is know about these microorganisms.The lack of information partly stems from the difficulty in cultivating these microbes in the lab, and researchers hope to get around that problem by using sequencing techniques that work with just a single cell from each microorganism to produce a high quality draft genome. Single cell sequencing techniques haven’t as yet produced a full genome sequence from a single cell sample, but continued work in this field is expected to change that.
Principal Investigators: Ramunas Stepanauskas, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Program: CSP 2010