Head of the Research Unit:
Prof. Dr. Alexandra Z. Worden
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
Our studies range from examining roles of the tiniest biological entities in the ocean – viruses – all the way up to multicellular organisms like zooplankton that fuel fisheries.
A key focus is on how photosynthetic cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae vary seasonally and how they will acclimate to future ocean conditions. These studies must be performed in a food web context, since the entire marine biosphere is interlinked, and within an evolutionary context since each organism holds a long history of adaptation, adaptations that will continue as ecosystems change.
Global biogeochemical and ecological models rely on understanding organismal biology and the interactions occurring in marine food webs. Marine microbes perform the bulk of marine photosynthesis and many other roles. As ocean ecosystems change, a key issue for humankind is that microbial mediation of carbon fluxes (including atmospheric CO2 uptake) and specific interactions remain ill-resolved and predictive capabilities are therefore still weak.
Strategies to narrow this gap involve iterating between experimental and observational field studies that capture food web interactions, as well as modelling. In laboratory experiments, systems biology approaches use evolutionary biology, genomics, and computational approaches to characterize responses to environmental change. Collectively, these topics are the foundation for projects encompassed by the OEB RD3 Unit and our collaborations.