DNA Analysis of Surfactant Associated Bacteria in the Sea Surface Microlayer

Grant Winners

  • Alexander Soloviev Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Mahmood, Shivji, Ph. D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Aurelien Tartar, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bryan Hamilton, M.S. – Oceanographic Center


  • Richard Dodge, Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Don Rosenblum, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences


Award Winners

The sea surface microlayer is defined as the thin biogenic layer that is present at the sea surface. This layer plays an important role in air-sea gas exchange and biochemical cycling. The microlayer can affect pollutant accumulation and climate active aerosol production. Presence of surfactants in the microlayer or subsurface water may result in the sea slick formation, which can be seen from space in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite imagery. Our study will focus on bacteria found in or near these a surface microlayer, specifically those that produce and decompose surfactants and hydrocarbons. We will use a new method for sampling and analyzing the sea surface microlayer, which has been developed at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (OC) in collaboration with the Farquhar College of Art and Sciences (FCAS) and presented at the 2012AGU Fall Meeting (Kurata et al. 2012, Vella et al. 2012). The in-situ samples will be taken from an OC research vessel, in and out of slick areas, during TerraSAR-X satellite overpasses. Samples will also be collected from the subsurface waters of the locations above. Collaboration with Dr. Susanne Lehner from the German Aerospace Center will give us access to the SAR satellite imagery coordinated with in situ sampling in the Straits of Florida. A state of the art quantitative DNA analysis of the field samples will be conducted at FCAS using the ABI PCR System in order to link presence of surfactant-associated bacteria to fine-scale features in satellite imagery. An OC graduate student (Bryan Hamilton) and a FCAS undergraduate student (TBD) will take part in the project. They will report project results at a national conference and participate in the publication. To expand these observations to a global scale with the help of satellite imagery, a proposal will be submitted to NASA.