Development and validation of a molecular technique for the analysis of archived formalin-preserved phytoplankton samples permits retrospective assessment of Emiliania huxleyi communities

Steven J. Ripley, Andrea C. Baker, Peter I. Miller, Anthony W. Walne, Declan C. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abstract: The coccolithophores, particularly the species Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay & Mohler, account for the bulk of global calcium carbonate production and as such play a fundamental role in global CO2 cycling and the carbonate chemistry of the oceans. To evaluate the response of this functional group to the effects of climate change, we undertook a feasibility study to determine whether a retrospective approach could be used on archived coccolithophore datasets. We demonstrate for the first time a technique for the extraction of E. huxleyi nucleic acids from archived formalin-fixed samples of the long-term Continuous Plankton Recorder. Molecular analysis of a nine year old formalin-fixed sample reveals the presence of a diverse population of E. huxleyi genotypes within a developing coccolithophore bloom. In addition, E. huxleyi sequences were amplified from a number of formalin-fixed samples, the earliest of which was collected in August 1972. This molecular assay promises the possibility of studying global variations in the distribution and genetic make-up of E. huxleyi communities over extensive periods of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Volume73
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank C. Brownlee, J. Bishop and A. Taylor for comments. We would also like to thank Matthew Hall for his technical assistance in the laboratory. PIM is funded by the PML Core Strategic Research Programme and the Natural Environment Research Council of the UK (NERC) Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS). AWW is a SAHFOS Research Fellow funded by a consortium of government agencies. DCS is an MBA Research Fellow funded by grant in aid from NERC and through the NERC core strategic research programme Oceans2025 (R8-H12-52).

Keywords

  • Continuous plankton recorder
  • Emiliania huxleyi
  • PCR

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