Scientist recipient of Royal Society's Dumont d'Urville NZ-France international funding

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Mar, 2016

Dr Richard Weld, Manager of Lincoln Agritech’s Bioelectrochemistry Team, and Dr Christopher Lefevre, researcher at Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) in France, were recently awarded a 2015 Dumont d’Urville Science and Technology grant. This programme is co-financed by the French and New Zealand governments and allows for the development of scientific exchanges and collaborations.

Weld and Lefevre will be comparing French and NZ populations of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), microorganisms that synthesise internal magnetic crystals that allow them to sense the Earth’s magnetic field (Figure 1). Relatively little is known about their global biogeography (the process of geographic and temporal distribution and abundance) and this is partly due to a lack of data from the Southern Hemisphere.

Magnetotactic Bacteria

Figure 1. Transmission electron micrograph of a NZ magnetobacteria isolate. Photo courtesy of our French collaborators, Christopher Lefevre and Nicolas Ginet.

This NZ-France collaboration will exploit the differences and similarities of their geographies to explore global microbial biogeography. While they are on opposite ends of the Earth and separated by the equator, NZ and France almost mirror overlap in latitude (Figure 2) and geomagnetic inclination and share similar freshwater ecoregion types.

France NZ

Figure 2. France and NZ geographic overlay

Lincoln Agritech and CEA will work together to investigate and answer questions about these microorganisms, their global distribution, adaptation and evolution.

This Royal Society grant will contribute towards scientific research and international travel.