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Alicja Dabrowska

Hello! Welcome to my ePortfolio!

After 4 years of studying at the University of Warwick, I have recently passed my PhD viva and I am currently awaiting graduation. On this website you can read about my PhD project and my academic background. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Best wishes,

Opening up the black box of marine
phototroph-heterotroph interactions

Black box

Marine bacteria drive the major biogeochemical cycles in oceanic systems1:

  • phototrophs (organisms that capture photons to acquire enery) fix carbon and as primary producers form the base of the marine food web2 
  • heterotrophs (organisms that cannot fix carbon themselves and have to acquire it from organic sources) consume labile organic carbon and are major players in N and S cycling3.

Whilst the processes underpinning phototrophy and heterotrophy appear mutually exclusive, given that both groups of organisms co-exist in the same seawater environment suggests that the seawater "milieu" will include a "melting-pot composite" of biomolecules produced (by phototrophs) and consumed (by heterotrophs), encompassing waste products, toxins and communication molecules that ultimately form the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) pools. As such, a wide variety of phototroph-heterotroph interactions can be envisaged. However, there is a dearth of information on such interactions in open ocean marine systems.

Synechococcus spp

Synechococcus spp. WH8102, CCMP2515 (CC9311), WH7805, WH5701

My PhD project aims to resolve this using marine Synechococcus4 as the model phototroph (a major player in marine C cycling) and marine Roseobacter5 as the model heterotroph (a dominant marine heterotroph, and a major player in marine S cycling). Following microbial growth in pure and co-cultures, the biomolecules produced and potentially consumed by each partner will be characterised using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, and for novel biomolecules structural information will be obtained using NMR spectroscopy. The biosynthesis of novel biomolecules (Synechococcus-derived) and the pathways involved in their potential consumption (Roseobacter derived) will be determined by gene knockouts. The prevalence of such biosynthetic and degradative pathways in marine systems will subsequently be determined using metagenomic mining and data analysis.

You can read more about the background for my project and my research objectives in the Research section.

1. K. R. Arrigo (2005) Nature 437: 349-355
2. L. Jardillier et al., (2010) ISME J 4: 1180-1192
3. S. J. Giovannoni & U. Stingl (2005) Nature 437: 343-348
4. D. J. Scanlan et al., (2009) Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 73: 249-299
5. Moran et al., (2007) Appl Environ Microbiol 73: 4559-4569

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Alicja Dabrowska

office C146.1, lab C126
School of Life Sciences, Gibbet Hill
University of Warwick, Coventry
CV4 7AL, United Kingdom

email:A dot Dabrowska at warwick dot ac dot uk

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