Coccolithophores, a group of calcifying marine phytoplankton within the phylum Haptophyta, play a significant role in marine biogeochemical cycles, particularly in those of carbon and sulfur. Emiliania huxleyi is one of the most abundant extant coccolithophore species in the ocean, typified by its cosmopolitan distribution and ability to form large blooms. Intra-specific variability in physiology (e.g. enzymatic rates, morphology, growth rates) of E. huxleyi has long been known in cultured isolates.
A central project aim is adaptation of a new single cell transcriptome (SCT) sequencing approach called SeqWell for analysis of natural microbial communities. The method addresses two overarching obstacles to microbial symbiosis investigations: 1) the requirement that symbionts be brought into culture for ‘omics analyses, and 2) time resolution limits on bulk approaches because populations are asynchronous. With enough SCTs, pseudotime methods can establish the time course of host and symbiont interactions.