The origin and regeneration of free-living populations of Fucus vesiculosus in the northern Baltic Sea

Description

FunkVeg; a Baltic Bridge project; will try to resolve the functional role, reproduction methods and connectivity between populations of 'free-living' Fucus vesiculosus (L.) that can be found living unattached on soft bottoms in sheltered bays within the Baltic. Fucus vesiculosus is one of the major foundation species in the Baltic Sea littoral zone with much research focusing on the attached form, however the free-living forms have largely been overlooked. As a consequence very little is known concerning the ecological function and origins of these populations. Accordingly, through genetic analyses we will provide valuable insights into the population structure and phylogeny of these free-living forms. Additional experimentation will identify optimal growth conditions, stress tolerance, and the link between abiotic conditions and phenotype. From this we will aim to determine the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and how these effect functionality

Layman's description

FunkVeg; a Baltic Bridge project; will try to resolve the functional role and way of reproduction of 'free-living' bladderwrack that can be found living unattached on soft bottoms in sheltered bays within the Baltic. We aim to answer the questions where do they come from and how do they reproduce? To do so we will examine the evolutionary history and population genetics of both attached and free-living bladderwrack within the Baltic. Current preliminary data provides intriguing results, suggesting free-living populations can; at least partially; sustain themselves. At Askö field station, we will increase our current sample size through further sample collection and add additional temporal data to our analyses. Additionally we will aim to identify physiological adaptations to the free-living forms for a free-living lifestyle through controlled laboratory experimentation. As free-living bladderwrack lives unattached it is subject to the whims of water movement. Consequently, there is both the risk of being washed upon the shore or carried deeper out of the photic (light) zone. We aim to identify the abiotic conditions required for survival and the tolerance to abiotic stress. Through this study there will be a greater understanding of a little studied form of an important species within the Baltic ecosystem.
Short titleFunkVeg-The functional role of vegetation in the Baltic Sea
AcronymFunkVeg
StatusActive
Effective start/end date01/01/201831/12/2021