OSU Marine Microbiologists Present Research at Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California

The Ocean Sciences Meeting is the flagship conference for the ocean sciences community.  It is co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Oceanography Society. 

Dr. Andrew Thurber Discussed the results of work at the Mo'orea Long Term Ecological Research site where his lab tracked the microbiome in corals, water, and sediment for three years and observed a significant bleaching event.  This, when combined with experiments, has helped inform us of mechanisms that expedite the rate and extent of coral bleaching.  Thurber AR, Seabrook S, McConnell K, Schmeltzer E, Correa A, Vega Thurber R. 2020. Holobiont Variability and the ecosystem impact of coral bleaching: lessons learned from a molecular time series. Ocean Sciences, San Diego, CA


Dr. James Fox (Dr. Halsey lab) presented
Linking Photic Layer Plankton Properties to Carbon Flux in the Ocean’s Twilight Zone  -- 
This is an introduction to work done using optical sensors and imaging techniques to improve our understanding of the global carbon cycle.




Dr. Chih-Ping Lee (Dr. Giovannoni Lab)  -- Effects of As:P Ratios on Co-Cultures of Algae and SAR11 Bacteria.  Arsenic is a toxin which can affect biochemical functions of many marine microbes. We have found that SAR11 bacteria, the most abundant heterotroph in the ocean, can survive in high-arsenic seawater.   These bacteria can use methylated arsenic, the chemicals produced due to detoxification by phytoplankton, to obtain energy. In this work, we used co-culturing to understand the responses of phytoplankton and SAR11 bacteria with different arsenic concentrations.



Dr. Chris Suffridge

(Dr. Giovannoni Lab) presented evidence for vitamin B1 mediated microbial interactions in a talk titled: 
Exploring Vitamin B1 Cycling and its Connections to the Microbial Community in the North Atlantic Ocean.





Stephen Noell (Dr. Giovannoni lab; Ph.D. Candidate) Induced Nutrient Assimilation in Oligotrophs:  Not Beneficial, Not Possible?  Both or Neither?    -- Many bacteria in the ocean leave all their genes turned on all the time, in contrast to how most living organisms only turn on the genes they need when they need them. We are exploring hypotheses about why this is, and have concluded that one overarching reason is that the average levels of nutrients in the oceans are too low to turn on regulatory systems, making it non-beneficial for bacteria in the ocean to have regulatory systems.



 (Dr. Giovannoni lab)  Oligotrophic, a Board Game Designed as an Interactive Learning Experience in Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry; a Tool for Science Communication, and Curriculum for Elementary through High School TeachersMicrobiology graduate student Quinn Washburn developed a board game called Oligotrophic designed to help students understand the microbial ecology of the oceans and movement of biomass. Marine microbes live extraordinary lives of their own, albeit ones fraught with danger and opportunity.  Driven to help educate children and others about the essential marine microbes that form the basis of life in the ocean and that perform 50 percent of the Earth’s photosynthesis, Washburn created the game, Oligotrophic.

Characterized by slow growth, low rates of metabolism and generally low population density, an oligotroph is an organism that can live in an environment with very low levels of nutrients. Oligotrophic environments include deep oceanic sediments, caves, glacial and polar ice, deep subsurface soil, aquifers, ocean waters, and leached soils as well as subtropical ocean gyres that cover a substantial portion of the Earth’s surface.

“It was my goal to create a fun, engaging and interactive game that would transport students into the microbial world so they could learn about this incredible ecosystem, where the action is invisible to the naked eye,” said Washburn.