Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Louie Wurch
Louie Wurch's photoLouie Wurch

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(currently unavailable)Mobile: 508-524-5601

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Research Interests
Phytoplankton, microscopic algae of the ocean, perform roughly half of the primary production that occurs on Earth.  Through carbon fixation via photosynthesis they form the base of marine food webs, and they are essential for global cycling of carbon, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and other trace elements.  Phytoplankton also play a major mitigating role in climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide through the biological pump.  These are but a sampling of the myriad of critical functions performed by phytoplankton.  In the midst of global climate change, the need to understand the factors that influence the distribution and abundance of these globally important algae has never been greater.  Therefore, my primary research interests are studying how phytoplankton interact with their geochemical environment, determining factors that promote the growth and proliferation of harmful algal blooms, and constructing the metabolic pathways of nutrient acquisition and metabolism in phytoplankton.

As part of my research, I have employed cutting-edge techniques from cellular and molecular biology.  Specifically, I have used global gene and protein expression analyses to identify cellular responses to N and P deficiency in the harmful algal bloom forming species, Aureococcus anophagefferens.  Additionally, I have designed molecular probes for assaying nutrient physiology from A. anophagefferens field populations. I have been part of two genome annotation and analysis teams.  My specific role was to annotate genes involved in N and P metabolism of two important eukaryotic algal genomes (the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and brown tide-forming A. anophagefferens), and I have been subsequently invited to help design and implement the first ever cross-taxon microarray for examining gene expression patterns in coastal microbial communities.

I received my B.S. in Biology (Marine Biology and Cellular/Molecular Biology) from Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA).  I received my Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the MIT/WHOI Joint Progam in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (Cambridge, MA and Woods Hole, MA).

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