Re-mapping plankton research visits

Over the last 3 months Dr Aditee Mitra and Prof Kevin Flynn were invited to four international conferences (UK, Norway, Brazil) to talk about the new paradigm in marine ecology.

In July keynote lectures were delivered at the International Advances in Marine Ecosystem Modelling Research meeting at Plymouth, and the Mathematical Models in Ecology and Evolution meeting in London.

Dr Mitra was also invited to the IAP conference in Brazil as a keynote speaker. The most recent contribution to the new marine paradigm is a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B; this is first authored Suzana Leles, a Brazilian-govt funded PhD student, supervised by Flynn & Mitra with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1860/20170664). This paper reports that 50% of marine plankton, which support fisheries, previously labelled as “animals” in marine ecology are actually mixotrophs. These mixotrophs are “body-snatchers” that steal and reuse the chloroplasts from their prey, combining plant-like and animal-like physiology within the one cell. Stemming from this paper Dr Mitra was in conversation with Adam Walton on BBSC Wales Science Café in the “Shipwrecks and Microscopic Body Snatchers” episode (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b093x4qb). 

In August, Mitra & Flynn were invited to provide hands-on training to the next generation of marine researchers on systems dynamics modelling at the international Hjort summer school at the world-famous Bergen mesocosm facility in Norway; the participants selected for this workshop consisted primarily of PhD students from across the world (USA to India). Mitra and Flynn were also keynote attendees at the FILAMO (Connecting Field work and Laboratory experiments to numerical Modelling in a changing marine environment (http://filamo.b.uib.no/) initiative led by Bergen University.

Funding success has seen Prof. Flynn as a co-I in two EU-funded projects involving commercialisation of microalgae (the recently started “Pilots4U” and the soon-to-start “enhanceµalgae”). A paper on why algal biofuels are not commercially nor environmentally sustainable (http://rdcu.be/ubgU) has stimulated debate via an article in The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/algal-biofuel-production-is-neither-environmentally-nor-commercially-sustainable-82095) and interest from companies including Boeing. Following from a Royal Society paper (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1833/20161099) and The Conversation article last year (https://theconversation.com/microscopic-marine-plants-bioengineer-their-environment-to-enhance-their-own-growth-63355) Prof Flynn was in conversation with Adam Walton on BBSC Wales Science Café (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b093x4qb) on the subject of why plankton laid down chalk that formed the iconic white cliffs of Dover.