Marine photosynthetic microorganisms (phytoplankton) are the basis of marine food webs. Despite the fact that their biomass represents only about 0.2% of the photosynthetic biomass on earth, they are responsible for nearly 50% of the global annual photosynthesis, and greatly influence global biogeochemical cycles. They can form massive oceanic blooms that stretch over thousands of kilometres and can be detected by satellites. They are regulated by environmental factors such as abiotic stress (nutrient availability, light regime) and biotic interactions with grazers and viruses.
Despite the huge importance of marine algae, relatively little is known about the molecular basis for their ecological success. We are interested in understanding the cellular mechanisms that govern the response of phytoplankton to microbial interactions with pathogens (viruses, bacteria, grazers) that control the fate of these blooms from the micro to the macro scales.
Our work aims at elucidating the cell signalling pathways that regulate cell fate decisions and uncover the chemical signals (infochemicals) involved in the complex microbial interactions in the oceans.