Uncovering the hidden diversity of the oceans
Do you dare to discover new species and get to know the required steps to characterize it? Learn how to culture, describe and analyze in an evolutionary context a new lineage using cutting edge techniques. If you are eager to uncover a new organism that no one has seen before, this is your project.
Scientists at the IBE often receive samples from all over the world containing potential new species. In this case we have received a new specimen from the Arctic Ocean. The so called AB19 by the researchers was isolated from the digestive tract of the filter feeding mussel (amphipod) in a group of islands of Canada. It belongs to the clade of Ichthyosporeans, and we suspect it might be a new unicellular marine species showing a very complex life cycle and features similar to animals and fungi.
You will have to describe this marine organism. As other samples, AB19 has the potential to become a new species. Therefore, its study would have an evolutionary importance to gain knowledge about biodiversity and the origin of animals and fungi on Earth.
In the first part of the course we will use in vivo imaging techniques in parallel to molecular studies with the goal of characterizing the unknown microorganism. We will use different molecular biology techniques to characterize AB19 starting with fluorescence microscopy imaging followed by DNA extraction, PCR, Electrophoresis and DNA sequencing.
In the second part of the course we will use computational biology tools to analyze the outcomes obtained from the experimental part. Software for microscopy images edition will be used to describe AB19’s life cycle and morphology. The DNA sequencing results will allow us to perform phylogenetic analyses in order to know where it is placed within the tree of life. At the end of the process, we will have a full profile of the species including its genome, and microscopy videos showing how it looks like and how its life cycle is. Once analyzed all the information, we will know whether AB19 is a new species or not, and if so, we will have to name it!
Finally, we will debate the importance of gaining knowledge about the real diversity of the planet and how this is essential for reconstructing our ancestor in order to better understand our origins.
Evolutionary biology, biochemistry, biology, genetics, microbiology, bioinformatics
Lab coat, laptop