Senior Scientist, Marine Biologist
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
"What Glows Below: New Insights on Biodiversity and Biooptics of Deep-Sea Plankton"
Abstract: There are many long-standing questions about the lives of gelatinous zooplankton, especially in the deep-sea. We are applying new technologies, such as transcriptomics, high-throughput data processing, and light-sensitive color cameras, to address how and why these organisms make bioluminescent light, how they are related to each other, and how they have evolved to thrive and diversify in the deep sea. Of particular interest are the ctenophores (comb jellies). Despite their relative obscurity, they have turned out to be ideal subjects for the study of pressure tolerance in enzymes and membranes, determining the qualities of the early metazoans, and finding the biosynthetic pathways for generating light-emitting luciferins. The insights we gain from these studies will not only improve our understanding of life in the sea, but can lead to biotech tools that improve human lives as well.
Host: Giribet Lab