Jana Hinners (Postdoc)

Jana smallbutmighty pictureI am interested in how phytoplankton as a crucial component of the marine ecosystem responds to changing environmental conditions and how this can influence ecosystem dynamics. For this purpose, I combine both applied experimental approaches, as well as ecosystem modelling.

In my current project I investigate the fitness landscape of diatoms. The concept of fitness landscapes is used to describe which trait value combinations lead to a high fitness (and thus a fitness peak), and which result in a lower fitness (a valley). The shape of a fitness landscape ultimately decides in which direction populations can evolve in response to changing environmental conditions. But what phytoplankton fitness landscapes actually look like still needs to be understood. To get a grasp on the shape of that landscape in marine diatoms, I am trying to push diatom lines of the Thalassiosira genus from their current fitness peak into fitness valleys via mutation accumulation experiments and then investigate in which direction they evolve out of their valley again.

This is a collaborative project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation. Together with our project partners from the labs of Martina Doblin in Sydney and Naomi Levine in California, a high-throughput analysis for phytoplankton traits is being developed, and the data on fitness landscapes is used to simulate in which ocean regions evolution may play a critical role in the light of global change.

You can also find me on Researchgate and Linkedin.