Skidaway Institute to participate in worldwide ocean sampling day

Scientists at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will join researchers around the globe in a worldwide Ocean Sampling Day on Sunday, June 21, the summer solstice.

Kevin McKenzie and Tina Walters collect samples during Ocean Sampling Day 2014.

Kevin McKenzie and Tina Walters collect samples during Ocean Sampling Day 2014.

This will be the second year Skidaway researchers have participated in the Ocean Sampling Day event. The first was conducted last year, also on the summer solstice. The event focuses on simultaneous sampling of microbes in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters.

This year, 191 marine research locations—from subtropical waters in Hawaii to extreme environments such as the Fram Strait in the Arctic Ocean—will participate. The sampling program will support international missions to provide information on the diversity of microbes, their function and their potential economic benefits.

Skidaway Institute scientists will take samples in two locations. One team will collect and process samples from the Skidaway River estuary immediately adjacent to the Skidaway Institute campus as part of an ongoing water-quality monitoring program Skidaway Institute has supported for more than 25 years. A second group will team up with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and collect samples from Gray’s Reef. The 14,000-acre marine sanctuary is located about 17 miles off the Sapelo Island coast.

Much of the fieldwork at both Skidaway Institute and Gray’s Reef will be handled by undergraduate college students gaining research experience at Skidaway Institute this summer. These will include students from UGA and Savannah State University’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

All samples and data will be sent to Bremen, Germany, for DNA extraction and sequencing to ensure maximum comparability. The resulting data will be made publicly available as soon as quality checks are finished. These cumulative samples, related in time, space and environmental parameters, will provide insights into fundamental rules describing microbial diversity and function and contribute to the blue, or oceanic, economy through the identification of novel, ocean-derived biotechnologies.

Ocean Sampling Day is jointly coordinated by Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, and the University of Oxford in the U.K. and is part of the European Union-funded Ocean of Tomorrow research project Micro B3.

Additional information on the global Ocean Sampling Day project is available at www.microb3.eu/osd.

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