A Global View of Nitrogen Osmolytes
  • Lecture Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building

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CANCELLED LECTURE - We regret that this lecture has been cancelled due to illness. We hope to reschedule it for early 2019. (Page updated: 4 December 2018.)

This promises to be an exciting talk at the interfaces of analytical chemistry, primary production and climate regulation in which Plymouth is playing a major role.

Nitrogen containing osmolytes are small, charged compounds important to cells in the marine environment for controlling cell turgor. They act as a source or carbon, nitrogen, and/or energy to some marine bacteria, so have relevance to biogeochemical cycles. Nitrogen osmolytes can also be metabolic precursors of methylated amines, which are volatile components able to cross the sea-air interface where they are thought to be important for particle formation and/or growth, which is a key uncertainty for the production of cloud condensation nuclei. Nitrogen osmolytes therefore have wide relevance in the marine environment to biogeochemistry, carbon and nitrogen cycles, and climate. Despite this, our knowledge of their distribution, and the environmental drivers of their concentrations, are lacking, partly due to difficulties surrounding their analysis. 

This lecture will present analytical developments for the analysis of nitrogen osmolytes, and studies of their concentration and relevance in the Western English Channel, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

This event is open to all (no booking required). Contact sabine.lengger@plymouth.ac.uk for queries.

Speaker profile

Dr Ruth Airs is a Senior Analytical Biogeochemist. She has a BSc and PhD in Chemistry from the University of York and undertook a short post-doctorate in aquatic microbial ecology at the University of Girona before joining Plymouth Marine Laboratory in 2002. Her research on nitrogenous osmolytes focuses around the controls on their natural distributions in marine systems, including UK coastal seawater and the Southern Ocean, their relevance for marine microbes, as precursors for methylamines and their importance for atmospheric chemistry and climate regulation. Her research in this area has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council over a number of years, alongside of opportunity such as the Antarctic Circumpolar Expedition. Ruth’s other main research interest is in photosynthetic pigments. She manages the phytoplankton pigment facility at PML, overseeing datasets produced for the Atlantic Meridional Transect programme, the Western Channel Observatory and Earth Observation projects.

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