© UGA Photography Service
James Hollibaugh is the Distinguished Research Professor of Marine Sciences at UGA.
The sudden population explosion of a single-celled organism named Thaumarchaeota
in the coastal waters of the Southeastern United States baffled scientists.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have received a $727,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study this phenomenon and its implications.
James Hollibaugh, a distinguished research professor of marine sciences, is the principal investigator for the project. He said the Georgia coast is an ideal place to do this research.
"So there's something interesting and hopefully informative going on on the Georgia coast that makes it a key place to study this," he said.
] seem to behave differently than at the other places that have been studied in more detail. So we're trying to figure out what it is about water quality or the oceanography of the Georgia coast that leads to these bloom dynamics."
Bradley Tolar, a graduate student in microbiology from Ocean Springs, Miss., has been involved in the research. He said the purpose of the three-year project that will be funded by the grant is to learn more about the organism.
"We're studying a group of organisms that are relatively poorly understood," Tolar said. "There are a few labs around the world that are studying them.
Basically, they were discovered in 2005, so we know more than we did then, but it's still not a lot. If you look at all the single-celled organisms in the ocean, this one group makes up 20 percent."