I don’t even know how to even start with this last blog post. I learned so many things in this REU! Namely, I learned about the immense amount of thought that has to go into writing methods; every single little detail matters so much more than you initially thought it did. It took me like four tries to figure that out (five if you count my… experience with the ctenophores). Another important thing I learned was all the interesting careers and opportunities outside of academia and research. And all this time I’ve been thinking research was all that there was (thank goodness it’s not). All in all, it has been an absolutely beautiful and amazing summer filled with people I can truly say I will never forget. We had so many laughs and adventures and unexpected moments, it’s gonna be really, really hard to say goodbye to all of them tomorrow. Rest assured there will be plenty of waterworks. I’m gonna miss the MSI so much, I’m gonna miss Bella, the science dog so much, but most of all I’m gonna miss my REU fam! To finish my very last blog post here is my (modified) abstract:
Phytoplankton play a key ecological role as the base of the marine food web and as regulators of atmospheric carbon. However, little is known about the ways in which these organisms interact with petroleum-related compounds. In the face of this growing environmental problem, insights into phytoplankton-petroleum interactions has never been more important. In this study, we exposed Pyrocystis noctiluca, an open ocean dinoflagellate, to varying levels of crude oil, dispersant, and chemically dispersed oil, and evaluated its response in terms of growth rate and individual
bioluminescent output. Given the toxicity of crude oil and dispersant, and its known effects on other plankton species, we hypothesized P. noctiluca to exhibit a decrease in growth rate and bioluminescent output as crude oil and dispersant concentrations increase. Additionally, we expected the dispersed oil treatment to have the strongest effect on P. noctiluca’s growth and bioluminescence. Our results show that crude oil in the form of the water accommodated fraction and dispersed oil both have an inhibitory effect on the growth of P. noctiluca, while dispersant only has an effect at extremely high concentrations. Bioluminescence was affected only by dispersed oil, which suggests that dispersed oil may affect the biochemistry of bioluminescence. We conclude that P. noctiluca is resistant to typical levels of dispersant used in the aftermath of an oil spill in both its growth and bioluminescence. However, our results suggest that this species is vulnerable to petroleum pollution at levels commonly found in the water column after a spill. Due to the threat that oil pollution presents and the importance of phytoplankton to marine ecosystems, it is imperative that we continue studying phytoplankton-oil interactions and effects.
Exito a todos!