Comparative evolution of polar adaption in Antarctic Desmarestiales versus Arctic Laminariales (brown algae)



Dr. Sandra Heinrich
Universität Hamburg
Fachbereich Biologie
Biozentrum Klein Flottbek


Project Description

Marine macroalgae are key organisms in polar coastal ecosystems. Despite their prime importance for ecosystem function, their molecular biology is still poorly understood. Brown macroalgae dominate rocky shores in both polar hemispheres and form huge kelp beds. Geographical as well as depth distribution of kelps is constrained by abiotic factors such as light and temperature. Therefore global environmental changes, e.g. global warming, have an impact on the performance and survival of kelp species. In the Arctic Laminariales evolved into the dominating taxon whereas in the Antarctic this role is taken by the Desmarestiales. Polar conditions were established first in the South (starting 14 mill. years ago), followed by the North (starting 2 mill. years ago); consequently Antarctic Desmarestiales are better adapted to cold conditions but at the same time less tolerant to higher temperatures than the Arctic Laminariales. We have recently established the first comprehensive molecular dataset for Arctic kelp, Saccharina latissima, and identified key genes for polar adaptation and acclimation strategies towards elevated temperatures and radiation. Here I suggest to generate a similar dataset for Antarctic Desmarestiaceae and to compare their adaptive potential and acclimation boundaries. The outcome of this project will be a detailed picture of polar adaptation and acclimation in polar kelps and will lead to a deeper understanding of acclimation potential and adaptive strategies of Antarctic and Arctic kelps.


DFG Programme: Infrastructure Priority Programmes

Term from 2012 to 2016