--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
June 22, 2011
Contact: Tatiana Brailovskaya, Director of Communications, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, (207) 633-9633; email@example.com
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – Bigelow scientists Dr. Hwan Su Yoon and Dr. Willie Wilson will lead a Café Scientifique discussion at 6 p.m. on July 5 about the implications of the recent discovery by a team of Bigelow Laboratory and Rutgers University researchers that some of the ocean’s smallest life forms -- thought to be microscopic single-celled plants when they were first identified in 2007 -- are actually animals. “Life and Death in a Drop of Seawater” is the second of ten Bigelow Laboratory summer science conversations, held every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. through August 30 in the Boothbay Harbor Opera House, 86 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor.
Bigelow researchers working on this project also included Senior Research Scientists Dr. Ramunas Stepanauskas, Dr. Michael Sieracki, and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Eun Chan Yang. The research team used advanced technology developed at Bigelow Laboratory to sequence the genomes of individual cells, revealing a complex microscopic world of predator-prey relationships in a single drop of seawater.
“These life forms, called picobiliphytes, are predators that use a range of feeding strategies to survive,” said Yoon.
“It’s like sitting in a game hide on the African savannah, observing the behavioral activities of the many top predators with a pair of binoculars,” added Wilson.
By sequencing the genome of a single cell and reconstructing its history, scientists can begin to understand how individual cells interact with other cells in the environment, and how diseased cells differ from neighboring healthy ones. The tools developed for this study may advance other types of biological research, helping to understand, for example, why different cancer cells from the same tumor grow at different rates.
Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the results of this project were published in the May 6, 2011 issue of the journal Science.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography -- examining the biology in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale ocean processes that affect global environmental conditions. The Laboratory’s Single Cell Genomics Center has analyzed more than 150,000 individual microbial cells, shedding new light on the planet’s biological diversity.
Recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory is spurring significant economic growth in the state through construction of a major Ocean Science and Education Campus in East Boothbay. Café Scientifique talks are free and open to the public, with beer, wine, and sodas available for purchase. The complete 2011 summer Café Scientifique program is posted on the Laboratory’s website (www.bigelow.org). ####