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"COccolithophores Morphology, BIogeography, geNetic and Ecology database" (COMBINE)
Start date: Aug 18, 2008, End date: Jul 17, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Coccolithophores are unicellular calcifying algae that form a major component of the oceanic phytoplankton. They play a key role in the global carbon cycle as a pump of inorganic carbon to the deep ocean and to the sediment, and are responsible for a considerable part of the ocean/atmosphere exchange of climate relevant gases (CO2, DMS). In the context of global climate change, and especially ocean acidification, understanding the role of plankton in modulating oceanic biogeochemistry has become a critical interdisciplinary research priority, with the need of developing reliable quantitative knowledge of the biogeography and ecology of key groups at oceanic scale. COMBINE specifically aims (a) to develop modern techniques for accurate coccolithophore biodiversity assessment, (b) to apply them within the AMT program to produce a high quality reference database on Atlantic coccolithophore biogeography, (c) to use this database to produce reliable data on the autecology of key species, i.e. their affinities with physico-chemical parameters like temperature and pCO2, and (d) to use/develop a molecular genetic tool (COD-FISH) to investigate the ecology of haploid and diploid phases of the life-cycle of common coccolithophore species. Overall this will both develop our understanding of coccolithophore ecology at species-level and produce a robust quantitative model of their biogeography through the Atlantic, which will help predicting their role as booster/reducer of global warming and ocean acidification. COMBINE will be conducted at the NHM, London where the necessary instrumentation, expertise and AMT samples are available, and will involve the CEREGE, Aix en Provence and the SB, Roscoff for automatic coccolith recognition and coccolithophore genetics expertise. COMBINE will provide unique training to the candidate by developing and applying innovative techniques in cooperation with leading scientists as well as deliver a major contribution to their joint research."
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