Elena Litchman

Wednesday October 11, 2023
12:00 pm ~ 01:00 pm
Ecological and Evolutionary Responses of Phytoplankton and Other Microbes to Global Change
Beaty Biodiversity Museum Auditorium
Mary O'Connor
Elena Litchman
Biodiversity Seminar Series

Abstract: Phytoplankton are key primary producers performing half of Earth’s carbon fixation, forming the base of aquatic food webs, and driving major biogeochemical cycles. Our global analysis of phytoplankton thermal traits showed that warming may change phytoplankton biodiversity, with tropical regions being especially vulnerable. We also showed that the interactions of temperature with nutrient limitation may exacerbate the negative effects of rising temperatures. The decrease in high temperature tolerance in the presence of other stressors may be universal across microbes, plants and animals. We found that, although phytoplankton can evolve greater tolerance of high temperatures, widespread nutrient limitation in the ocean may diminish phytoplankton adaptive capacity. I will also outline the potential of phytoplankton for climate mitigation, focusing on ocean fertilization for CO2 removal. Finally, I will briefly discuss how host-associated microbiomes may be affected by climate change.