Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Ocean Life, Planet Health

May 2011 eNews

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Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
News for May 23, 2011

Single Cell Genomics Research Findings Published in Science Magazine

A graphic artist’s rendition of a single-celled organism in the ocean, trailing its sequenced DNA. Credit: Susanne Ruemmele. Courtesy of Rutgers University.

A team of Bigelow researchers, working in collaboration with scientists from Rutgers University, has discovered that picobiliphytes, tiny marine microbes believed to be single-celled algae when they were first identified in 2007, are actually predators that use a range of feeding strategies to survive. The research has opened a window onto the complex ecological relationships between some of the most miniscule forms of life on the planet. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the results of this project have been published in the May 6, 2011 issue of Science. The single cell genomics tools developed at Bigelow Laboratory 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. The paper’s co-authors include Bigelow scientists Drs. Yoon, Stepanauskas, Wilson, Sieracki, and Yang; and Drs. Bhattacharya, Price, Rahah, and Duffy from Rutgers University.

Two Spaces Remaining for CCMP’s Algal Culturing Techniques Course

Participants from five countries will attend the six-day residential course on phytoplankton culturing techniques at the Laboratory’s Provasoli-Guillard Center from June 5 to 11, 2011. “There has been considerable interest from students involved in the algal biofuels industry,” said CCMP Director Willie Wilson. “Everyone wants a slice of this burgeoning new field, yet few have the necessary skills to successfully culture algae.” Students will learn basic and advanced techniques for isolating, growing, cryopreserving, identifying, and harvesting marine phytoplankton. Special sessions are being sponsored by Fluid Imaging Technologies, demonstrating lipid staining using its FlowCAM® instrument; and by Pall Life Sciences, demonstrating tangential flow filtration techniques for harvesting algae. Course instructors include Carmelo Tomas (author of the renowned Identifying Marine Phytoplankton book), Bob Guillard (Director Emeritus, CCMP), Willie Wilson (Director, CCMP), Julie Sexton (Curator, CCMP), Pete Countway (Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory). and Nicole Poulton (Research Scientist, J.J. MacIsaac Aquatic Cytometry Facility). Two spaces in the class were still available at press time. Application details can be found at:, or contact Brynne Kristan at with specific questions.

Bigelow Café Scientifique Summer Science Conversations Begin June 28
This summer’s series of Café Scientifique gatherings begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening, June 28 at the Opera House in Boothbay Harbor, 86 Townsend Avenue. Senior Research Scientist Dr. Cynthia Heil will lead a discussion titled “And the Sea Turned to Blood: Red Tides, Harmful Algae, and Toxic Phytoplankton.” The Laboratory’s Café Scientifique programs are informal conversations with our scientists and their guests about the latest discoveries in ocean science and their impact on current environmental issues and challenges. The 2011 summer series will run every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m., June 28 through August 30. The cafés are free and open to the public, with beer, wine, and sodas available for purchase. The complete program for the series will be posted on our website in June.

BLOOM 2011

The Keller BLOOM Class of 2011. Photo by Rebecca Fowler.

The 2011 Keller BLOOM (Bigelow Laboratory Orders of Magnitude) Program brought 16 Maine high school juniors to the Laboratory for four wet, foggy days between May 15 and May 19 to conduct fieldwork and laboratory analysis with Bigelow scientists, and learn about academic programs and future career paths in ocean sciences. Students from ten Maine counties were members of this year’s class of BLOOM graduates:

Mackenzi Masselli Lewiston High School, Androscoggin County
Zack Gray Edward Little High School, Androscoggin County
Aiden Sawyer Presque Isle High School, Aroostook County
Chelsea Pelletier Madawaska High School, Aroostook County
Stephanie Goulet Ashland District High School, Aroostook County
Jamie Currie Greely High School, Cumberland County
Hannah Burnett Sumner Memorial High School, Hancock County
Alyssa Torrey Mt. Desert High School, Hancock County
Annie Schide Gardiner Area High School, Kennebec County
Zachary Caruso Waterville Senior High School, Kennebec County
Dash Marley Islesboro Central School, Knox County
Margaret Keefe Camden Hills Regional High School, Knox County
Miles Eames Boothbay Region High School, Lincoln County
Max Rawson Morse High School, Sagadahoc County
Gwen Snow Maine Central Institute, Somerset County
Benjamin Shepherd Belfast High School, Waldo County

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E2Tech: Commercializing Resources of the Sea
Laboratory Executive Director Dr. Graham Shimmield and Director of Corporate Alliances and Technology Transfer Mark Bloom are speaking at the Environmental & Energy Technology (E2Tech) Council of Maine’s June 23 breakfast forum. They will discuss the Laboratory’s strategy for creating an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” to harness the benefits that the world’s oceans can offer to the biofuel, medical, pharmaceutical, and food industries. The Laboratory has made a commitment to work with numerous private companies to explore commercial opportunities for new products and technologies. The forum will be held from 7:30 to 9:15 a.m. at the Portland Country Club, 11 Foreside Road in Falmouth, Maine. Registration for the event is available online or by calling (207) 767-5283.

Iron and Icebergs: Bigelow Laboratory Researcher in Science News

Debbie Nail Meyer © 2009 MBARI.

Bigelow Senior Research Scientist Dr. Ben Twining is featured in a May 16, 2011 Science News magazine story about the effect of melting Antarctic icebergs on carbon dioxide uptake by phytoplankton. Twining was part of a National Science Foundation-funded investigation about nutrient enrichment of water surrounding icebergs. As they melt, icebergs in the Antarctic shed iron, fertilizing phytoplankton growth and creating hotspots of biological and chemical activity. The researchers found enormous variation in the amount of iron enrichment in the water around individual icebergs, triggered in part by the complicated turbulence in the water that results from calving icebergs and melting ice.

Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals Award
The Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP)—the international body for professionals engaged in technology transfer—has awarded Bigelow Corporate Alliances and Technology Transfer Director Mark G. Bloom designation as a Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP®). The RTTP® Program “reflects the highest international quality expectations defined by the technology transfer profession.” The transfer of discoveries and knowledge from academic research into the marketplace is recognized globally as being of paramount importance to building and sustaining a robust and innovative world economy.

Dr. Paty Matrai Awarded Antarctica Service Medal
Senior Research Scientist Paty Matrai has received the national Antarctica Service Medal, established by Congress in 1960 for presentation to individuals who have served as members of U.S. expeditions to the Antarctic. The medal is awarded “to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, U. S. citizen, or resident alien, who after January 1, 1946… served on the Antarctic continent in support of U. S. operations there.” Recipients may also be “deserving civilians, including scientists and polar experts.” The medal is considered a military award, and is issued in the name of the Department of Defense. To qualify for the award, an individual must serve between fifteen and thirty days stationed on the Antarctic continent, defined as south of 60° latitude.

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