La vie en rouge … l’algue rouge

Best laid plans of a #NewPI … what happens to them?

Well, they often get triaged for more urgent things that were triaged earlier for more urgent things that were also triaged even earlier for more urgent things … and well you get the drift.

My lab and I have embarked on a summer of field work (not unlike the summer of 2015 that was highlighted on TME).

First leg of Summer 2018 was to France, for field work bookended by two evolutionary conferences. I will follow up this post with several posts on the work presented at the Conférence Jacques Monod Sex Uncovered: the evolutionary biology of reproductive systems held at the Station Biologique de Roscoff and then Marine Evolution 2018 in Strömstad, Sweden.

Funded through EMBRC-France, I was able to return to Roscoff, where I was based for my dissertation research. I was able to re-sample the same populations of Chondrus crispus that we had sampled a decade ago, just before I started my PhD.

Sampling at the Pointe de Primel in Brittany, France in 2007 funded by the Sally Casanova Pre-doctoral Fellowship and in 2018 funded by the EMBRC-France. Pictured: Christophe Destombe, Myriam Valero, and myself. © SA Krueger-Hadfield

I arrived jet lagged and in the midst of Air France and and SNCF strikes. A normal drive would be about 5.5 to 6 hours from Paris to Brittany, where I’d be based, but I had a much longer drive thanks to the whole of Paris decamping the city for a long weekend during strikes with no air or rail travel.

Every single rest stop on the toll road to Rennes was full. And, I mean full. Cars were parked up on the grass, in the picnic areas. Anywhere a car could fit, a car was fit! I was becoming rather desperate for coffee and food and water when I got to Rennes … No sleep from Atlanta to Paris and stressful driving … I ended with McDonald’s coffee and slinked back to my car, my head hung in shame that I was in France and went to Mac’s! But, I consoled myself that desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

First up was the Jacques Monod, but more about that later. As soon as the meeting ended, I organized the field gear and was assisted by my PhD supervisor and algal population geneticist pioneer, Myriam Valero, UPMC professor and phycologist Christophe Destombe, and Louise Fouqueau, a co-tutelle PhD student in Myriam’s international lab between Roscoff and PUC in Chile.

We hit three sites in three days.

Unlike the time I got stuck in mud, field work went off without a hitch. The weather held, miracle of miracles in Brittany!

After each field bout, I’d return to the lab and begin algal processing. My post-doc took my time lapse video and added some stereotypical French music to it (see here). A good soundtrack  playing in the background, the field processing flew by!

We had previously shown that there are clear barriers to gene flow related to tidal height at three populations sampled in northern and southern Brittany (see Krueger-Hadfield et al. 2011, Krueger-Hadfield et al. 2013). High shore populations (aka those populations that are exposed to terrestrial conditions for a much longer time at low tide) were more isolated and had lower genetic diversity … thus, they could be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Think low tide in the middle of summer. Not necessarily the place to be if you are an alga rooted to the shore!

There had also been work showing how the mean sea surface temperature (SST) and its amplitude have changed along the Breton coast, right where we had sampled Chondrus (e.g., Gallon et al. 2014).

“Position of the study area (a) and changes over time along the Brittany coastline for (b) sea-surface temperature (SST),
‘Mean’ corresponds to the annual means, while annual ‘amplitude’ corresponds to the difference between the average annual minima and maxima. Time range: 1990–2012 for SST. Regions: Norm., Normandy; NEB, north-eastern Brittany; NWB, north-western Brittany; WB, western Brittany; and SB, southern Brittany.” from Gallon et al. (2014)

So, it seemed like an optimal time to get back out onto a rocky shore and sample some seaweed.

Now that the seaweeds are safe and sound in Birmingham, we will begin processing them soon. We’ll be exploring local adaptation in the shore and looking in more detail looking at genomic regions of selection between ploidy stages and tidal heights. As there’s a genome for this alga, the questions we can ask with these time series specimens are limitless.

We’ll soon be adding more work in the western Atlantic to this data base, with a student starting in my lab very soon, where we will incorporate molecular ecology and the rich natural history of Chondrus on our side of the pond.

Now for some seaweed glamour shots:

The anemone and the alga … © SA Krueger-Hadfield

© SA Krueger-Hadfield

Opportunistic sampling of other algae: Bifurcaria bifurcata © SA Krueger-Hadfield

Merci to my field helpers: Myriam, Christophe, and Louise. And, thanks to funding from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and EMBRC-France that made it possible for me to live la vie française if only for a little while.

Now some gratuitous touristy images because once the field work is done, a little play keeps a #NewPI sane:

ADN = DNA in French (really good wine and a bottle now adorns my office, fitting as I learned to be a molecular evolutionary ecologist in France and in French) © SA Krueger-Hadfield

Local cheese made with algae. © SA Krueger-Hadfield

If I had a patron saint? © SA Krueger-Hadfield

Les Goémoniers by Andre Jolly held at the Musée de Pont-Aven. I never managed to get while I lived here (criminal), but finally did on this trip.

References  

Krueger-Hadfield et al. (2011)  Distinguishing among genets and genetic population structure in the haploid-diploid seaweed Chondrus crispus (Rhodophyte). 

Krueger-Hadfield et al. (2013) Intergametophytic selfing and microgeographic genetic structure shape populations of the intertidal red seaweed Chondrus crispus.  Molecular Ecology 22: 3242-3260. 

Gallon et al. (2014) Twenty years of observed and predicted changes in subtidal red seaweed assemblages along a biogeographical transition zone: inferring potential causes from environmental data. Journal of Biogeography 41: 2293–2306.

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About Stacy Krueger-Hadfield

I am a marine evolutionary ecologist interested in the impacts of seascapes and complex life cycles on marine population dynamics. I use natural history, manipulative field experiments and population genetic and genomic approaches with algal and invertebrate models in temperate rocky shores,estuaries and the open ocean.
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