Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lake Taihu Collaborators Visit

Last week we hosted Prof. Jackie Qin, Prof. Guangwei Zhu and Dr. Wei Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Nanjing. We are working together on the Lake Taihu eutrophication project, which is now in its 3rd year. We had some very productive meetings talking about Taihu, and also some fun at the Beehive restaurant (see below).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

UWM seminar visit

Last week I was at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. This is a really nice place to visit, a beautiful town with a great waterfront to go for a run on. I had some very interesting discussions with researchers there. Specifically, I got to talk about the Anabaena - nitrogen interaction model we are developing. The model simulates individual cells with genes, transcripts, proteins and metabolites (see figure below). It exhibits some cool emergent behavior, like differentiating specialized N-fixing cells (heterocysts) as fixed N gets depleted. The model predicts several parameters, like nitrogenase (nifH) transcript levels and we are presently comparing the model to observations from laboratory experiments (see figure for an example, data are from Martı́n-Figueroa et al., FEBS Letters, 2000). The next step is to apply the model at the field scale. As I talk to people I always ask them if they have or know of any field data that we can use to compare the model to. The technology certainly exists, but there are only few published studies that show metatranscriptomics over time in surface waters, and none of them are really applicable to our model. So the data don’t seem to exist yet. This is an important milestone for me, because I have been working for the past 10 years to make our models catch up with observations. And now it seems we are actually ahead of them :)