Skidaway Institute scientist Julia Diaz has received a $10 thousand faculty research grant from the UGA Vice President of Research. Julia will use the grant to continue her research into diatom exoenzymes as potential drivers of marine biogeochemistry.
According to Julia, diatoms are critical members of marine phytoplankton communities, where they are responsible for roughly 40 percent of global primary productivity. By shaping the global biogeochemical cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients such as phosphorus, diatoms influence marine ecosystem health, control the ocean’s ability to absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and thereby shape the ocean’s role in the global climate system.
“Over the past decade, I have been studying the cellular fluxes and large-scale environmental implications of phosphorus acquisition and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by diatoms,” Juia said. “Through my previous research, I have identified key diatom-driven biogeochemical transformations of phosphorus and reactive oxygen species for which no enzymatic mechanism is currently known. However, these data indicate a clear role for extracellular enzymes.”
Julia’s larger goal is to develop a research program examining the biogeochemical processes that shape marine ecosystem health, natural resources and climate. “The aim of this proposed research is to uncover the molecular underpinnings of these key, diatom-driven transformations of phosphorus and ROS,” she said.