A group of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers and engineers have developed and tested an innovative new system for sampling small planktonic larvae in coastal ocean waters and understanding their distribution.
Results were published online July 30, 2015 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.
The researchers targeted barnacles because their reproductive biology is well known, and the scientists knew when and where larvae would be abundant. Adult barnacles are sessile (shown), but the planktonic larvae travel and disperse with water movements. Several barnacle species co-occur in coastal Massachuetts waters, but little is known of how their larvae behave and distribute differently in the water column.
Photo by Julie van der Hoop
Traditionally, pumps and nets are used for sampling plankton, which require sampling at predetermined stations or towing nets behind a ship, followed by visually sorting collected organisms into taxonomic groups. Samples generally combine organisms collected throughout horizontal or vertical tracks, making it impossible to detect small gradations or species-specific patterns in larval distribution.
The sampling system combines three cutting edge technologies--an adapted Suspended Particulate Rosette (SUPR) multi-sampler, a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with sensors, and identification of organisms by DNA barcode analysis. They've dubbed the new system "SUPR-REMUS."
"SUPR-REMUS lets us take discrete samples in the water, in a way that nets can't do in shallow water," said Annette Govindarajan, lead author on the paper. The new system is already yielding insight into spatial distribution of invertebrate larvae.
The group deployed the vehicle, which they named "SUPR-REMUS," in Buzzards Bay, Mass., twice during March 2014, when barnacle larvae were abundant. The REMUS 600 carried a CTD sensor to measure and record conductivity, temperature, and depth. The researchers performed genetic barcode analysis of the collected larvae and deduced species distributions.
"Plankton nets that take discrete samples, such as multiple opening-closing systems, are meant for use in open water," said Govindarajan. "Our goal was to sample in shallow water, and close to the bottom for larvae of coastal benthic invertebrates."
The researchers targeted barnacles because their reproductive biology is well known, and the scientists knew when and where larvae would be abundant. Adult barnacles are sessile, but the planktonic larvae travel and disperse with water movements. Several barnacle species co-occur in coastal Massachuetts waters, but little is known of how their larvae behave and distribute differently in the water column.
"Traditional sampling doesn't give us fine-scale information," said biologist and co-author Jesús Pineda. "Larvae often accumulate in small-scale features such as ocean fronts, where temperature and salinity vary at small distances. We need a sampling device that can resolve these spatial scales and take multiple samples. With this sampler we can initiate autonomous sampling remotely, in response to a change in the environment--such as a change in water temperature--that we suspect initiates larval transport."
Team members also included WHOI Adjunct Scientist Chip Breier and WHOI Principal Engineer Mike Purcell.
The team modified the SUPR sampler to fit in the front section of a REMUS 600, with additional foam and weights for buoyancy and trim. A flow meter measured seawater volume, which was pumped through external ports at predetermined times, and multiple 200um-mesh filters retained the plankton from separate samples.
On two days in March the team launched the SUPR-REMUS to conduct transects perpendicular to the coastline. On the first mission it traveled from the surface to about 15m. deep in a sawtooth ("yo-yo") vertical pattern over a 9.9 km distance. The second deployment was more complex: The AUV's upper and lower track boundaries were programmed relative to the surface and to the sea floor, over a 11.2 km distance.
"The deployments were challenging as the weather at the time was frigid, but we were very pleased with how SUPR-REMUS performed," said Annette Govindarajan.
Barnacle larvae progress through multiple planktonic stages , termed "nauplii" and "cyprids", before settling to the bottom. Larvae of different species can appear nearly identical, and traditional identification methods are based on detailed microscopic examination, a process that can take a long time.
Instead, the researchers used genetic barcode analysis, short gene sequences that are diagnostic for numerous invertebrate species. They identified a total of 164 barnacle larvae under a dissection microscope, extracted DNA from the larvae, and used standard techniques to sequence mitochondrial COI genes, often called a barcode sequence. The researchers compared the larval sequences to known sequences published in GenBank and to sequences from local adult barnacles.
They found the barnacle larvae were abundant, up to 950 larvae per cubic meter of water. Larvae were of three species--Amphibalanus sp., Semibalanus balanoides, and Chthamalus fragilis--with Amphibalanus sp. by far the most abundant. The researchers saw some patterns in distribution, but need to conduct a larger survey before drawing conclusions.
Overall, Govindarajan said the project met the primary objective, testing the feasibility of SUPR-REMUS for sampling in coastal waters: "We were thrilled with the first results for robotic sampling coupled with genetic analysis. We got interesting results, learned from it, and plan to deploy again this fall."
The work was funded internally through the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Technology Innovation Award and the Alfred M. Zeien Endowed Fund for Innovative Ocean Research. The team has funding from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant Program to use SUPR-REMUS in fall 2015.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www.
WHOI Media Office | EurekAlert!
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences