Day 4: Spotlight on the Moyer Lab

Our fearless leader, Craig.

Our fearless leader, Craig.

Our Chief Scientist, Craig Moyer, is here with his Western Washington University lab group—Heather Fullerton (post-doc,) Kelsey Jesser (MS student), and Kevin Hager (undergrad)—to analyze Zeta DNA.

In Craig’s words, the Moyer Lab’s objectives for this cruise are all about microbial ecology across gradients—in particular, thermal and chemical gradients. How do microbial mat communities vary genetically with increasing distance from a hydrothermal vent, and with increasing depth in the interior of the mat? To answer these questions, the Moyer Lab is collecting mat samples (to be paired with temperature and electrochemical measurements) at fine spatial scales.

Collecting microbial mat samples in a cassette of syringes operated by one of Jason’s robotic arms.

Collecting microbial mat samples in a cassette of syringes gripped by one of Jason’s robotic arms.

Why fine-scale sampling? A risk in ecological studies is that preconceived sampling schemes can dictate the scale of community variability that we observe (e.g., if we chose to sample every 50 m, we could only see variability expressed at that scale or coarser—we might miss the natural scale of variability within the community). Fine-scale sampling helps to ensure that natural variability is more fully captured—or, to paraphrase Craig, it lets the microbes tell us what the scale of variability is.

Heather and Craig preparing miniature temperature recorders (MTRs) for deployment on the seafloor.

Heather and Craig preparing MTRs (miniature temperature recorders) for deployment on the seafloor.

The Moyer Lab is employing a suite of DNA analyses to investigate their mat samples. Heather is using a “shotgun sequencing” metagenomics approach to look at the Zetas’ functional genes  and determine how they vary spatially in the mat community. Kelsey is examining genes that control elemental cycling (e.g., oxygen, carbon, nitrogen).

In addition to mat sampling and DNA analyses, the Moyer lab’s objectives include photomosaic mapping with Sentry and Jason, plus aerial photodocumentation of Jason and elevator deployments using a remote-controlled micro-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) equipped with a camera.

Kevin's shirt says what we're all thinking.

Kevin’s shirt says what we’re all thinking.

Stay tuned to hear about what some of the other labs on board are doing.

–Cat Wolner, NSF

Photo credits: Clara Chan (top and 3rd), one of Jason’s cameras  (2nd), Cat Wolner (bottom)

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One thought on “Day 4: Spotlight on the Moyer Lab

  1. Pingback: Day 12: The Emerson Lab–cassettes, cultures, and interconnections | zetahunters

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