Extra Credit – Eric Collins

The first half of the seminar was an explanation of the geography and history of the Arctic, including an overview of how the water cycles between the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean, and how this in turn affects the temperature, salinity etc. of the Arctic. Dr. Collins’ study was based on seawater samples collected all around it, including the Bering Sea, Northern Alaska, Svalbard, and many more. The second half was a presentation of the preliminary results from the sequencing of the samples. The goal is to create a map to locate the various microbial strains and their distribution within the Arctic waters.

I don’t have much of an interest in geography usually, but I thought this seminar was very interesting and actual, because it touched on the topic of climate change and how it’s affected the ice and the sea in the far North in the past forty years or so. The microbial communities are undoubtedly changing along with their habitat, and this period of transition is a very interesting one to study in my opinion. Some connections with our class are the fact that even in the Arctic, cold and inhospitable as it seems, hosts an incredible quantity of microorganisms, including protists, bacteria, diatoms, and many others. Also the fact that all the data collected through the analysis of seawater comes from genome sequencing, which we have done in lab. I would like to know which microorganism is most abundant overall in the Arctic, and how the diversity and distribution of microorganisms is changing with the climate, along with what microbiologists predict at the moment.