Sara Bender: Om Nom Nom Nutrients: Exploring the “Appetite” of Hungry Marine Microbes

Mon 4/8/13, 6:00 – 7:30pm
The Pub at Town Hall
$5; Free for UW Students.
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Some microscopic marine organisms, known as phytoplankton, help to sustain our planet through the production of by producing oxygen. But, as the drifters of the sea, they are subject to an environment that is constantly changing. Ocean mixing results in uncertain meal times; delicious nutrients, necessary to sustain their growth could be here one hour and gone the next. And to make matters worse, what little nutrients are available, are scavenged by not one, but up to 10 million other cells microscopic organisms at any given time. One group of phytoplankton known as diatoms has adapted a somewhat unorthodox different method for dealing with such tumultuous environments: rapid nutrient uptake. Through this messy, competitive-eating style approach, diatoms are able to outcompete other marine microbes for nutrients. This presentation will explore the success of diatoms in the marine environment, and discuss the role of evolution in enabling these “hungry” microbes to outcompete other phytoplankton for precious, fleeting nutrients.

About the Speaker

Bender_ENGAGEphotoSara Bender is a PhD candidate in the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the growth and decline of microscopic marine organisms, known as diatoms, which live in miniature glass houses. While Sara’s scientific adventures have taken her across the world’s oceans and back again, her current project focuses on her own backyard: the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest. Originally from the Garden State, Sara headed west after graduating with a B.A. in Biology from Rutgers University; she has since enjoyed the abundance of Seattle’s yoga studios and ever-flowing Americanos.

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