Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Guest researcher
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Molecular Ecology

MSc. Tom Theirlynck

Guest researcher

My name is Tom Theirlynck and in May 2019 I started as a PhD candidate at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and University of Amsterdam, supervised by Prof. Linda Amaral-Zettler and Prof. Gerard Muyzer. I finished my masters’ in Freshwater and Marine Biology at the University of Amsterdam early 2019, where I worked on microbial communities in ecosystems varying from coral reefs to freshwater lakes. The topic of my current PhD project is the floating macroalgal genus Sargassum. Sargassum is well known for its diverse associated communities, sometimes poetically referred to as the “golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean”. However, over recent years floating Sargassum has started forming unprecedented accumulations on the coasts of the Caribbean that threaten biodiversity. In my PhD research I will focus on the growth causes and comparative (population) genomics of floating Sargassum and their holobiomes to hopefully gain insight in these urgent environmental issues.

Research questions that I will address in my PhD include the following:

  • What are the transcriptional and ecophysiological mechanisms of floating Sargassum in response to        abiotic changes in the environment?
  • Are different populations of holopelagic Sargassum genetically distinct?
  • What is the microbial community composition and what are typically affiliated taxa within holopelagic Sargassum?              

Linked blogs

Wednesday 13 April 2022
Sealink expedition 2022
From 7-18 April scientists of NIOZ on board the RV Pelagia collect data and samples in the Sealink project. In the interdisciplinary Sealink project, Dutch and Caribbean scientists are investigating how water quality affects coral reef health along…
Tuesday 13 August 2019
NIOZ@SEA | RV Pelagia Sargassum Cruise PE-455
The holopelagic species of Sargassum (i.e. S. natans and S. fluitans), which are normally associated with the Sargasso Sea, have begun forming unprecedented accumulations and subsequent strandings on the western coast of Africa, northern Brazil, and…

NIOZ publications

  • 2023
    Theirlynck, T.; Mendonça, I.R.W.; Engelen, A.H.; Bolhuis, H.; Collado-Vides, L.; van Tussenbroek, B.I.; García-Sánchez, M.; Zettler, E.R.; Muyzer, G.; Amaral-Zettler, L. (2023). Diversity of the holopelagic Sargassum microbiome from the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt to coastal stranding locations. Harmful Algae 122: 102369.