Additional Research Topics

Microbial Food Webs of the Ross Sea

Photosynthetic protists (i.e. microscopic algae; the phytoplankton) constitute the base of the food chains in most regions of the ocean. However, in some regions such as the Ross Sea, Antarctica, the algae form large colonies and/or noxious materials that make them less palatable to the minute animals in the plankton. Thus, it is not clear how the zooplankton in these regions obtain their nutrition. In this project we test the hypothesis that heterotrophic protists (rather than the algae themselves) constitute an important food source for zooplankton in the Ross Sea.

Protistan Diversity of the Deep Sea & Hydrothermal Vents

Protistan diversity in the deep sea is poorly known. This project addresses fundamental questions regarding the species diversity and trophic activities of protists inhabiting the deep ocean, particularly hydrothermal vents. The research program is designed to determine whether deep-sea communities harbor unique assemblages of these species, to establish the dominant taxa that are present there, and to begin to unravel the ecological role they play in the largest biome on Earth.

Monitoring Algal Blooms in Coastal Harbors

Networks of water quality sensors have been established in King Harbor of the City of Redondo Beach and Marina Del Rey, two highly developed man-made boat harbors along the coast of southern California. These networks provide an early-warning system for increases in algal abundance that may be indicative of poor water quality or preludes to toxic events

Center for Integrated Networked PlatformS (CINAPS)

CINAPS is a large, collaborative effort to integrate cutting-edge sensing technology, communication, and scientific exploration of local and regional aquatic ecosystems towards the overall goal of monitoring water quality. The specific focus of the project relates to harmful algal bloom events, but outcomes are of interest to managers, policy makers and the general public interested in coastal water quality.

Rapid Analysis of Pseudo-nitzschia & Domoic Acid, Locating Events in near Real Time (RAPDALERT)

This project, supported by the Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) program of NOAA, is focused on the development and implementation of a fine-scale sensing and sampling program in coastal waters of southern California to study toxic blooms of microalgae. The project incorporates innovative in situ networked sensors, cutting-edge identification of toxic algae, quantification of the algal neurotoxins, and state-of-the-art remote sensing.

The USC Microbial Observatory

The USC MO is a long-term research project that entails a study of the microbial diversity of the San Pedro Channel off southern California. The ultimate goal of this project is the discovery and characterization of the ecological linkages between microbial taxa (Protists, Bacteria, Archaea) by microscopy and cutting-edge genetic analyses of the community composition and abundances of all microbes present in the water column

Global Survey of Marine Microbial Eukaryotes

Many microbes are easily transported around the world by wind, water and macroorganisms, but are all protists truly ubiquitously dispersed across our planet? This question is the focus of two projects in our lab that employ genetic analyses of samples collected from different locales and depths from around the world's ocean. Understanding the global distributions of protists (i.e. their biogeographies) has implications for how microbial communities are structured in different regions, and how they may respond to environmental change.

Planktonic Sarcodines & Symbioses

Acantharia, Radiolaria and Foraminifera (collectively referred to as ‘sarcodine protists’) are among the largest and most complex single-celled organisms in existence. They are abundant globally in tropical and subtropical oceans. In addition to long and complex life histories, these species often harbor symbiotic algae. These symbiont-host associations are highly active photosynthetically and as predators, and collectively they can constitute a significant fraction of energy flow in open ocean ecosystems.

Harmful Algal Blooms & Desalination

Collaborative studies with local desalination pilot plants are examining the fates and possible impacts of phytoplankton-derived toxins and excessive plankton biomass on the quality of intake water and the permeate produced by the reverse osmosis process employed by many desalination facilities.

Urban River Discharge & Harmful Algal Blooms (EcoHAB)

This research program examined the connection between river discharge following storm events in a highly urbanized coastal region (Greater Los Angeles area in southern California) and blooms of the toxic diatomPseudo-nitzschia.

  • Caron Laboratory
  • University of Southern California
  • 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF 301
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371