Sunday, September 7, 2014

Protein biomarkers in the Ocean!

Around the 4th of July I was lucky enough to spend a few days working with Mak Saito and Matt McIlvin at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.  My background is in human proteomics.  I've worked with some other mammalian samples as well -- some mouse, rat, and different monkeys here and there.  I've also helped some people set up plant experiments and occasionally yeast, but that is probably what 90% of us are doing out there in the field.

So when I heard that this lab was taking ocean water and doing proteomics on that, I seriously wondered how that would possibly work.  Turns out it not only works, but it works well enough that you can track all sorts of things, and well enough that those findings drop right into Science.  Obviously, this kind of work is no where near trivial and adaptation of existing methods and technology, as well as the development of completely novel techniques.

In this recent paper, this group and their collaborators demonstrate the tracking of stress biomarkers from an abundant bacteria across different areas and depths of the Pacific ocean.  They demonstrate how these markers correlate with nutrient abundance levels to a degree that you could probably stop actually tracking the nutrients and just go with the quantitative proteomics (I repeat, of the ocean, lol!)

Super cool study that shows how much we can do when we take this technology out of the box we're used to keeping it in!

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