The physics of microbial feeding: mechanisms and trade-offs (39493)

Project Details


Unicellular flagellated protists play a key role in the biological processes in the ocean. Through grazing on phytoplankton and bacteria they have major impact on global biogeochemical cycles, and by being grazed, they transfer primary production to higher trophic levels. Yet, we do not understand the mechanisms of flagellate feeding, nor how their resource acquisition trades off against mortality and thereby shape the diversity and function of microbial communities. At the scale of flagellates, viscous forces dominate and viscosity impedes predator-prey contact, and the fundamental question is how flagellates overcome the impeding effect of viscosity.

This cross-disciplinary project (microbial ecology, small-scale fluid physics) examines the fluid dynamics of feeding and the associated mortality trade-offs in single celled protists through direct observations with high-speed video-micrography, novel flow visualisation techniques, computational fluid dynamics, and theoretical modelling. 

The project is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research.

Research area: Oceanography
Effective start/end date01/01/201830/06/2023


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