B6 Ecophysiological and molecular biology studies of Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba

PI: Bettina Meyer, Co-PIs: Gabriele Gerlach, Bernd Blasius

Antarctic krill has a central position within the Southern Ocean food web and shape the structure of the marine Antarctic ecosystem. Long-term abundance data of krill from the South-West Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean show a strong declining trend in krill biomass in concert with decreasing winter sea ice coverage. Currently, the performance, adaptability of krill’s physiological functions to the ongoing environmental changes and the drivers of important live cycle functions which a synchronised with the highly seasonal environment of the Southern Ocean is largely unknown.

Our group: Biodiversity and biological Processes in Polar Ocean (Prof. Dr. Bettina Meyer, ICBM) is interested in understanding the drivers of crucial seasonal life cycle functions such as lipid accumulation, winter metabolic reduction, maturation and spawning from a molecular point of view. The PhD project is embedded in a cooperation project between the group of Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gerlach (Biodiversity and Evolution of animals, IBU) and the group of Prof. Dr. Bernd Blasius

Tasks: The first step in this PhD project will be to study the transcriptomes of adult krill caught in different seasons in the Southern Ocean to identify the genes, which are involved in the specific physiological functions outlined above. The second step in the PhD project will be to get a mechanistic understanding between possible drivers such as food and or photoperiod (day length) and krill’s life cycle functions in controlled laboratory experiments. The expression levels of identified target genes will be investigated.