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Ultrastructure of Hydrothermal Vent Foraminifers: Novel in situ fixation approach to alleviate sampling artifacts

DOEI Project Funded: 2004

Proposed Research

What are the primary questions you are trying to address with this research?
We are addressing questions centered on understanding the evolution of protists, the most primitive of eukaryotes, at hydrothermal vents, a hotspot for evolutionary processes, based on critical information provided by their cellular ultrastructure. In order to accomplish this, we have developed a method to chemically preserve these organisms in situ so that possible sampling artifacts and trauma (as experienced by all previous studies) will not confound our results.

What is the significance of this research for others working in this field of inquiry and for the broader scientific community?
This project is method/sampling refinement to allow means to avoid potentially significant artifacts for cell-ultrastructural work imparted by current collection practices using submersibles and ROVs.

What is the significance of this research for society?
This method / sampling refinement will ultimately allow us to gain insights to the early evolution and diversification of eukaryotic life. In toher words, it will allow us to delve deeper into the question “Where did we come from?”

When and where will this investigation be conducted?
This work will be conducted using Alvin in May 2005 at newly-discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents on the Galapagos Rift.

What are the key tools or instruments needed to conduct this research?
Alvin and a modified enzymatic sampler for preservation of fauna.

Is this research part of a larger project or program?
Ultimately this data obtained with this project will allow comparison with existing datasets on protists from sulfide-enriched environments.
If you have conducted previous/similar work on this subject, please suggest any web links or citations that might help others better understand the background to your line of research. If appropriate and readily available, please suggest or provide photographs, illustrations, tables, and charts, as well.

Originally published: January 1, 2004