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Organic matter in the marine environment

More than three-quarters of dissolved organic matter in the ocean is found at depths greater than 1000 m. This dissolved organic matter can serve as a carbon and energy source for marine microorganisms. Conversely, the marine microorganisms may release dissolved organic matter. The interplay between these two processes is complex. We work in a variety of marine ecosystems to consider the impact of chemical and biological processes on organic matter in the marine environment.

For one example of what it is like to conduct research at sea, check out the blog developed by graduate students and postdocs during the 2013 cruise on the R/V Knorr (

We are currently a part of the BIOS-SCOPE project and you can check our new website here: This collaborative project involves scientists from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), University of California - Santa Barbara, Oregon State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the University of Exeter in England. Collaboratively, we seek to understand what chemical compounds microbial communities produce, transform and leave behind, including through community interactions with viruses and zooplankton. The field component of this reseach takes place off Bermuda, while our laboratory analyses will be done at the WHOI FT-MS facility.

We are also working to consider the role of predation and viral lysis on the composition of dissolved organic matter in coastal environments. This project will involve laboratory experiments with model organisms and field samples collected during an Aureococcus bloom in Long Island Sound.

Kujawinski Lab members: Krista Longnecker, Erin McParland, Brittany Widner, Noah Germolus, Craig McLean, Gretchen Swarr, Alex Frank (past), Winn Johnson (past), and Catherine Carmichael (past)