Maintenance & manipulation of algal endosymbionts in radiolarian (Acantharea)
About the Event:
Photosymbiotic relationships—where a heterotroph, like a coral, hosts a photosynthetic symbiont—are common in marine ecosystems, particularly those with low-nutrient availability. While the coral-algal photosymbiosis, which is partly responsible for the productivity and biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems, is undoubtedly the best-known and most-studied photosymbiosis, many other heterotrophs host photosynthetic symbionts, including many unicellular microbial eukaryotes (protists). In my thesis research, I used molecular methods to investigate the host-symbiont dynamics in one of these lesser-known protistan photosymbioses, specifically between acantharian hosts and Phaeocystis algal symbionts. By combining single-cell rRNA gene sequencing, single-cell RNA-seq, and environmental metabarcoding, I demonstrated that there is a high level of symbiont integration and host control in this relationship, which has important evolutionary consequences for this symbiosis and for how we understand the relationship between photosymbiosis and the evolution and integration of chloroplasts among eukaryotes.
About the Speaker:
Margaret Mars Brisbin recently defended her thesis, “Characterization of Acantharea-Phaeocystis photosymbioses: distribution, abundance, specificity, maintenance, and host-control”, at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. In her research, Margaret is interested in how microbes interact in the oceans and how these interactions affect larger scale processes and biogeochemical cycling. In her spare time, Margaret enjoys studying data science, sailing, diving, and spending time with her dog. In the fall, she will join the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as a postdoctoral scholar, where she will continue studying interactions among marine microbes.