The research in the Petrou Lab couples cell physiology, photobiology and biochemistry, to investigate cellular processes and biochemical adaptations in microalgae in response to environmental change. Our broad aim is to link phenotypic traits and responses with ecology and ecosystem resilience.
Using an array of techniques, we assess photomechanistic effects and biochemical compositional changes at both the single cell and community level. This approach allows us to observe species specific response diversity within natural, mixed microalgal communities. By investigating individual cells within a population, we can obtain better data on response and resilience of individual species in a natural setting, which help us to understand how ecosystems are responding under disequilibrium.
Some of the key questions our lab is currently addressing include: 1) how will diatoms respond to a warmer, more acidic ocean? 2) how is microalgal nutritional value influenced by environmental change? and 3) how do biogenic sulfur compounds (DMSP and DMSO) influence microalgal physiology and lower trophic interactions in the marine environment?