Where are you from, and what is your role in Extreme 2004?
am a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at the
University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, where I teach
microbiology and biotechnology, and have a molecular microbial ecology research
lab. This is my first opportunity to participate in a hydrothermal
vent cruise and will give me the opportunity to isolate methylotrophic
and methanotrophic bacteria from this unusual extreme environment
and also to examine their diversity within this environment.
What questions are you trying to answer and why?
Despite the diverse geochemical and temperature gradients that are prevalent
at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, relatively little is known about the diversity
and ecology of the microbial communities that occupy these fluctuating high-temperature
niches. Some biogeochemical studies have determined a role for microbial
populations such as the sulfur-oxidizing
bacteria in this unusual ecosystem. Microbiological processes such as methane
oxidation have been shown to occur within hydrothermal plumes, and submarine
hydrothermal venting is a major source of methane to the ocean. Concentrations
of methane reported in deep-sea hydrothermal vent fluids from the East Pacific
Rise, the Galapagos, Guaymas Basin and the Southern Juan de Fuca Ridge are
105 to 107
times more concentrated in methane than the ocean bottom water into which
it is being discharged.
question I am trying to answer is what is the structure of
bacterial community in this environment. These communities
could include methanogens, aerobic methane oxidizers
(methanotrophs), and anaerobic methane-oxidizing
to include methanogens and sulfate-reducing
bacteria). A combination of molecular techniques, to analyze
the phylogenetic and functional genes present in DNA extracted
from environmental samples and isolation of bacteria, will
provide valuable information on the importance of methane-producing
microorganisms in these extreme and unusual deep-sea hydrothermal
is your background, and what lured you into marine science/education?
background is in terrestrial microbiology, but the groups of
bacteria which I study (methylotrophs and methanotrophs) are
also present in the marine environment, which has led to a
number of projects studying these organisms in the marine environment.
I obtained my undergraduate degree in biology
from the University of Ulster at Coleraine, Northern Ireland,
UK, and my Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, England,
in microbiology. I then spent the next 11 years at the University of Warwick,
England, as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a research
fellow with my own research group. Recently, I have moved to the University
of Waikato in New Zealand where I teach microbiology.