Dr Laura Payton

Postdoctoral researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI)

I am a postdoctoral researcher based at the University of Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). I work on biological rhythms and endogenous molecular clocks in marine organisms, i.e. how organisms are adapted to their cyclic ecosystem and temporally organize accordingly.

In the CHASE project, I work on the understanding of biological rhythms of pelagic key invertebrates inhabiting the Polar Oceans: the copepod Calanus finmarchicus and the krill Thysanoessa inermis. Biological clocks provide a measure of time so that organisms can anticipate and adapt to cyclic changes in their environment. By measuring day-length, the circadian clock seems to synchronize the daily cycle but also the timing of seasonal life cycle events in response to annual changes in light conditions. However, climate change induced geographical population shifts at high latitudes will result in animals experiencing a mismatch between the thermal and the photoperiodic environments. Indeed, such migrations result in exposure to different day-lengths (or photoperiods), which can be extreme when compared with lower latitudes. The CHASE project will focus on the understanding of how such changes in photoperiod affect species in the group of calanoid copepods and krill, centrally important to the ecological function of the Arctic ecosystem.

My previous works at the Marine Station of Arcachon (University of Bordeaux, France) focused on the understanding of behavioral and molecular biological rhythms of a littoral benthic species, the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Moreover, I applied an innovative chronobiological approach to study the ecotoxicological issue of the oysters’ contamination by harmful microalgae (focus on the Paralytic Shellfish Toxin producer Alexandrium minutum). I used a broad range of tools, from HFNI valvometry to qPCR, RNA interference or RNA sequencing.

CHASE is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by NERC.