TMC News

Moore Foundation funding for microbial symbiosis work at MBL

MBL Scientist Zoe Cardon and colleagues have been awarded funding from the Moore Foundation’s Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative, to study the interactions between sulfur metabolizing bacteria and cordgrass in coastal marshes. Her project is one of no less than four successful proposals at MBL. Read the Moore Foundation and MBL announcements.

Spartina alterniflora is a native cordgrass dominating intertidal salt marsh platforms along thousands of miles of the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. The interaction among Spartina roots, sulfate reducing bacteria, and sulfur oxidizing bacteria is at the core of salt marsh health. The group aims to establish a model system for understanding mechanisms underlying this symbiosis using source material from the Plum Island Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research site north of Boston.  Spartina and the microbiome associated with its roots controls an ecosystem-scale production, recycling and detoxification system, maintaining vast expanses of clonal Spartina that are crucibles for marine coastal life, and creating peat platforms critical for salt marsh persistence in the face of rising sea levels.

Dr. Cardon shares the award with fellow MBL researchers Anne Giblin, Elena Lopez Peredo, Blair Paul and Emil Ruff. Also contributing to the project's bioinformatic research this summer are seven undergraduates, among them University of Chicago students Alexandra Ellerstein and Jack Riley (both Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows through the Jeff Metcalf SURF program).