PS Seminar Series: Photosynthesis in the polar oceans

Abstract: Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, play a vital role in global climate and are home to varied and productive ecosystems. Marine photosynthesis sequesters carbon, impacts biogeochemical cycles and forms the basis for the majority of marine biological production. Despite its importance, marine photosynthesis is difficult to study due to the diversity of photosynthetic organisms and environments. This is particularly the case in polar oceans where inaccessibility hinders our ability to study unique ecosystems that are under threat by our changing climate. In this seminar I will discuss adaptations for photosynthesis at subzero temperatures, fluctuating salinity and low light. I will demonstrate how these adaptations enable algae to maintain high rates of primary production that support polar marine ecosystems and exert a large influence on the dissolved biogeochemistry of this region.

Biography: Growing up in Perth, WA, Jodi (she/her) completed her undergraduate degree at Murdoch University and worked at CSIRO Plant Sciences. Her PhD was at the University of Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar researching the evolution and adaptation of RuBisCO over geological timescales. Afterwards, she completed a postdoc in the Geosciences Dept at Princeton University, USA, where she spent 2 months in Antarctica investigating the biochemical and physiological adaptations of polar algae to extreme environments. Jodi is now an Assistant Professor at the School of Oceanography, University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, continuing research on sea-ice algae and carbon fixing marine microbes. Her work on extreme environments connects her with the UW Astrobiology Program where she is a faculty member. Jodi is a visiting fellow at ANU and is looking forward to developing lots of exciting, new collaborations.