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Dr Linda Armbrecht

PhD MSc BSc

Dr Linda Armbrecht is an early career researcher in the field of phytoplankton ecology, dedicated to improving our understanding of global biogeochemical cycles through the investigation of modern and past interactions of microbes and phytoplankton with their environment. She pursues her research by using a combined approach of examining phytoplankton morphology and ancient DNA preserved in marine sediments to reconstruct whole communities, and to establish relationships of these communities with environmental conditions by using multivariate statistical tools.

Linda's current postdoctoral project focuses on fossilised phytoplankton and ancient DNA from sediment cores recovered during Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Exp. 316, Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE). Through the application of both microscopy and molecular techniques to estimate past phytoplankton communities, she is able to characterise eukaryotic phytoplankton of all size classes as well as improve currently available genetic databases for phytoplankton species determination. Additionally, this project establishes new research protocols that can be applied to investigate phytoplankton community changes over geological time scales, which will notably advance future research into ancient DNA on a primary producer level.

Her latest completed project investigated fossilised diatom communities in sediment cores acquired from the Antarctic Wilkes Land margin during an expedition of IODP Exp. 318. The fossilised diatom communities in focus originate from the Pliocene era, which is the last time the Earth has undergone rapid warming, similar to today. As such, changes in the fossilised phytoplankton communities back then can give us important insights into possible alterations of the present communities and their consequence for primary production uder present climate change.

Prior to these paleo-focused projects, Linda completed my PhD in the Marine and Coastal Phytoplankton Lab at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. During her doctorate, she established the first annual phytoplankton time-series survey in the tropical-temperate transition zone (Coffs Harbour, NSW, ~30°S). This interdisciplinary survey integrated physical oceanography, taxonomy, chemotaxonomy and biogeochemistry in a geographically and biologically significant region susceptible to climate-driven environmental changes. In this transitional region the strengthening of the East Australian Current appears to enhance the tropicalisation of primary producers along the Australian east coast.