Understanding links between metals, metal speciation and phytoplankton growth in the ocean

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Understanding the processes that enable marine phytoplankton to acquire trace metals are fundamental to discerning primary production in the global ocean. There is compelling evidence to demonstrate that phytoplankton in major regions of the world ocean are limited by the availability of certain trace elements, notably iron.

While much attention has been focused on iron, it is becoming evident that other trace elements, chiefly cobalt, zinc and cadmium, also play fundamental roles regulating phytoplankton growth. Recent work in our laboratory has focused on understanding the links between the chemical speciation of these metals and phytoplankton growth.

This is multidisciplinary work integrating marine chemistry and biology, and includes a strong fieldwork component. Students involved in the work would help in the collection of samples, making the chemical speciation measurements and the communication of the work. Contact: Michael Ellwood

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