Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Marc Besseling

Guest researcher
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 539
Location
Texel
Function
Guest researcher
University
Universiteit Utrecht
Promotor
Jaap Sinninghe Damste

Expertise

  • Geomicrobiology
  • Organic geochemistry
  • Lipid biosynthesis

Research interests

Archaeal diversity and ecophysiology

The archaeal community in the marine water column is dominated by three main groups: marine group I (MG-I, Thaumarchaeota) and MG-II and -III Euryarchaeota. However, so far, there are only cultured representatives for the Thaumarchaeota. Therefore there is little known about the MG-II and -III and their possible important role in the marine environment.  

From culture studies we know that MG-I synthesize isoprenoid glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetra­ethers (GDGTs) with 0 to 4 cyclopentane rings and cren­archaeol (exclusively found in MG-I), used in the paleotemperature proxy TEX86 to calculate sea surface temperatures. However the lipid composition of MG-II/III is still unknown, as well as their potential confounding effect on the TEX86 paleothermometry. Therefore we sampled the marine water column at varies locations, e.g. the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, Arabian Sea and the North Sea. Here we determined the archaeal community composition and the lipid composition to investigate a potential correlation. 

Lipid biosynthetic pathways

Part of my PhD project is investigating lipid biosynthetic pathways. I focus specifically on the lipids that are used as biomarkers for temperature reconstructions. These are lipids, often membrane lipids but not exclusively, that change their ratio of incorporated rings or double bonds with changing growth temperatures. These lipids can be recovered from e.g. sediment archives to reconstruct past temperatures. However to increase our knowledge on these lipids and their relationship with temperature it is important to understand how they are formed and what is affecting them besides temperature. For this I am performing lab experiments with e.g. Emiliania huxleyi (producer of alkenones, used in the paleotemperature proxies UK37) to determine the genes that are involved in the alkenone production and other processes. 

Education and research experience

Aug. 2013/Present: Ph.D. student at NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry department. 

Aug. 2012/Aug. 2013: Teacher training. First degree Biology teacher. University Utrecht. Graduated.

2010 – 2014: Science Education and Communication. Premaster and Master at University Utrecht. Graduated.

Cruises involved

Aug. 2014: Scientist on the Heterocyst cyano (HCC) cruise from Cape Verde to Barbados  on R/V Pelagia. Part of my Ph.D. at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. 

July 2011: Student participant on the Long Chain Diol (LCD) cruise around Iceland on R/V Pelagia prior to my MSc internship at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

NIOZ publications

Linked projects

Genes for Biosynthetic pathways of Biomarker Lipids
Funder
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research - Dynamisering
Project duration
5 Dec 2013 - 5 Jul 2019