Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, IR 1: Ecosystem Interactions (MS), IR 3: Ecosystem Stability (HS), Life Science

Protists Around European Waters

Patterns of Rare and Abundant Marine Microbial Eukaryotes

SUMMARY: This study looked at the ratio of different sub-communities of protists around different bodies of waters around Europe. What they found was that the ratio was very similar no matter where the sample was taken from. Researchers sequenced ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of the organisms; rRNA lets scientists know that these organisms were alive and well in the samples. Similar to animals on land, the smallest organisms were present in the highest numbers. Due to the fact that these protist communities and sub-communities can have an effect on the food chains that they support, studying what makes their population increase and decrease is helpful in predicting how environmental changes can alter marine ecosystems.

LESSON COMMENTS: This article is a good addition to a microscopy lab on pond microorganisms. Students can read this article and see the observations made by the scientists in their own samples. Since most schools do not have access to RNA sequencing equipment, this article can help teachers introduce laboratory tools and methodologies while students are able to visualize the microorganisms being studied. This will allow students to gain a stronger understanding of how organisms they find in water samples are used by scientists in laboratories.

R. Logares, S. Audic, D. Bass, L. Bittner, C. Boutte, R. Christen, J.-M. Claverie, J. Decelle, J. R. Dolan, M. Dunthorn, B. Edvardsen, A. Gobet, W. H. Kooistra, F. Mahé, F. Not, H. Ogata, J. Pawlowski, M. C. Pernice, S. Romac, K. Shalchian-Tabrizi, N. Simon, T. Stoeck, S. Santini, R. Siano, P. Wincker, A. Zingone, T. A. Richards, C. De Vargas, and R. Massana, “Patterns of Rare and Abundant Marine Microbial Eukaryotes,” Current Biology, vol. 24, no. 8, pp. 813–821, 2014.