Acclimation and adaptation of seaweeds in a rapidly changing environment

Internship position (12 ECTS)
The marine realm represents some of the most ecologically and socioeconomically significant ecosystems on the planet. Unfortunately, coastal marine ecosystems, along with the goods and services they provide, are threatened by global climate change. Continuously increasing greenhouse gas emissions cause changes in oceanographic conditions such as temperature and pH, which in turn affect biological and social systems. Shifts in ocean characteristics likely act as stressors by inducing changes in life-history traits and physiological performance of organisms. The outcome of a changing climate is dependent on a combination of factors, including the rate and magnitude of climate change, the adaptive potential of the species (standing genetic variation, population structure, etc.), plastic and possibly also epigenetic responses. During this internship we will study the extent to which populations are adapted to local environmental conditions, focusing on temperature response in the brown algae Dictyota. Thereto we will sample populations of Dictyota in the field and characterize their temperature niche using lab experiments. If time permits the students will also perform crosses to determine up to which extent temperate-related characteristics are heritable. The latter feature is a prerequisite for potential adaptive evolution. Work: sampling natural populations, genotyping specimens (molecular work), inoculating specimens for unialgal cultures, growth and crossing experiments
Experience with fieldwork. Interest in marine plants and seaweeds.
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contact person last name: 
De Clerck
Other people involved: 
Kenny Bogaert
Reference Number: RP-48141