DiTullio Lab Research Cruise

In December 2008, the DiTullio lab members participated in a scientific research cruise aboard the R/V Roger Revelle, Scripp’s research vessel.  They joined scientists from around the world in a collaborative effort to study a phytoplankton bloom that occurs every spring off the Southern coast of Argentina.  The goal of the research cruise was to examine the effects of elevated carbon-dioxide levels on the growth of a particular group of phytoplankton called Coccolithophores. These organisms help fight global warming by turning carbon dioxide into protective shells called coccoliths.  These armored plates are shed by the algae and sink to the sea floor thus, sequestering the carbon.  As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, the ocean act as a natural carbon dioxide sponge; increasing oceanic carbon dioxide levels result in a lower oceanic pH or acidification.  One of the experiments examined how this change in ocean’s pH levels might adversely affect Coccolithophores and their ability to sequester carbon in their coccoliths.  The cruise lasted thirty days and provided the researchers with a lot of interesting data and samples that are currently being processed in the lab.

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