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Tier 1 grant to Federico Lauro and Adam Switzer for study using microbes as biomarkers of past environmental change
|Assoc Prof Federico Lauro||Assoc Prof Adam Switzer|
Congratulations to Assoc Prof Federico Lauro (PI) and Assoc Prof Adam Switzer (Co-I) who have been awarded a Tier 1 grant for a project using microbial biomarkers to understand the effects of past environmental change on coastal ecosystems. Coastal ecosystems today stand before major environmental challenges in terms of rising sea level, increased frequency of extreme weather events etc. Understanding how coastal systems have responded to similar events in the past is fundamental for predicting ecosystems’ future potential for recovery and resilience in the face of these hazards, knowledge that is necessary for developing appropriate coastal management policies, plans and practices.
Marine microbes have great potential as environmental biomarkers; due to their vast abundance and short life span, microbial communities can respond to a change in environmental conditions such as water chemistry, temperature or salinity within hours. Recent advances in DNA sequencing technology enables analysis of a wider range of organisms than previously possible, providing a snapshot of the microbial community in, for example, a sediment record. For such analysis, Assoc Profs Lauro and Switzer will be collaborating with colleages from SCELSE. The current study will use microbial biomarkers in coastal sediments to analyse frequency and occurrence of e.g. past sea level change, soil formation, storms and tsunamis at time scales spanning from decades to millennia. Analyzing the composition of microbial communities preserved in geological records will help contextualize them and the extent of the ecological changes induced by past environmental changes such as extreme storm and tsunamis.