Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The inner clock of polar plankton organisms as a focal research topic of a new virtual Institute

04.07.2012
Function and significance of the biological clocks in polar planktonic organisms are the focus of the virtual Helmholtz Institute entitled PolarTime starting July 1st, 2012. It is one of eleven new virtual institutes funded by the Helmholtz Association.

PolarTime, coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, will be supported for up to five years with approximately three million euros from the impulse and network fund of the Helmholtz Association.

The anthropogenic influence on the climate system is particularly pronounced in Polar Regions. Examples of environmental changes in the Arctic and Antarctic include the receding of sea ice and ocean warming. How do marine organisms react to these changes in the environment given that their vital processes, such as reproduction cycles and seasonable food availability, have been synchronised with the environment over millions of years? To be able to answer these questions, researchers in the virtual Helmholtz Institute PolarTime are taking a very close look at Antarctic krill (scientific name: Euphausia superba). It serves as a model organism for a polar plankton species which has adapted to the extreme conditions.

Krill plays a key role in the foodwebs of the South Ocean. During the course of evolution krill has developed a large number of biological rhythms that are closely connected to large seasonal changes in its environment. Almost all organisms, from protozoan to humans have adapted to the periodic change from day to night by developing an inner biological clock. This clock permits the synchronisation of physiological and behavioural processes with the diurnal variability in environmental conditions. It can also determine the seasonal rhythms with surprising temporal precision. However, the inner clock must be reset from time to time. This happens thanks to so-called outer "timers“ such as the length of daylight (photoperiod).

A team around spokesmen Dr. Bettina Meyer from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association and Dr. Mathias Teschke from the Charité University Medicine Berlin will, in future, investigate the principles, interactions and evolution of endogenous biological rhythms and clocks in pelagic organisms of the Polar Regions using Antarctic krill as a model organism. Cooperation partners are the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig as well as the Italian University of Padua and the Australian Antarctic Institute in Hobart (Tasmania).

Research at the Alfred Wegener Institute will focus on physiology. “We are currently investigating, for example, the conditions under which genes and enzymes are active and how these are controlled by the inner clock“, says Meyer. Her colleague, Mathias Teschke, has already started investigating krill's inner clock during a research project funded by the German Research Foundation. “The studies on krill will provide a solid basis to investigate the inner clock and its mode of action of other key polar marine organisms which assume a central function in polar ecosystems“, explains Teschke.

Scientists of two working groups from the University of Oldenburg will use the knowledge gained on individual organisms to determine the population dynamics of key species and the response of population shifts on the Antarctic ecosystem. Evolutionary biologists around Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gerlach will investigate whether the krill populations in the East and West Antarctic sectors differ from each other, as climate fluctuations are considerably larger in the Western than in the Eastern sector. The working group of Prof. Dr. Bernd Blasius uses the physiological data to develop mathematical models in order to test the impact of different climate change scenarios on the inner clock and the associated vital functions of marine organisms.

“With the establishment of joint professorship for ‘Biological Processes and Biodiversity in Polar Regions’ we would like to ascertain a long-term cooperation with the University of Oldenburg“, says Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Furthermore, a joint working group “Marine Chronobiology“ is to be set up in which Teschke can contribute his expertise from the Berlin Charité. “In order to introduce the innovative research area of PolarTime into teaching theory, a ‘Chronobiology in Marine Environments’ summer school will be set up at the University of Oldenburg“, reports Prof. Dr. Babette Simon, President of the Carl von Ossietzky University. An exchange programme for master's and PhD students is also planned with the international cooperation partners as well as a circuit lecture on different areas of chronobiology.

The virtual Helmholtz Institute PolarTime - Biological timing in a changing marine environment: Clocks and rhythms in polar pelagic organisms

Coordination: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association; spokes persons: PD Dr. Bettina Meyer, Dr. Mathias Teschke

Cooperation partners:

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gerlach, Prof. Dr. Bernd Blasius

Charité University Medicine Berlin: Prof. Dr. Achim Kramer, Dr. Mathias Teschke

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig: Prof. Dr. Volker Grimm, Dr. Karin Johst

Australian Antarctic Division: Dr. So Kawaguchi, Dr. Simon Jarman

University of Padua: Prof. Dr. Rudolfo Costa

General Information on the new virtual Helmholtz Institutes may be found on the website of the Helmholtz Association: http://www.helmholtz.de/en/news/press_and_news/

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans. The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the national and international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw
Further information:
http://www.awi.de/en
http://www.helmholtz.de/en/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>