Taxonomic and functional diversity of sandy beach meiofauna

Sandy beach

Sandy beaches are highly important ecosystems for a wide range of species. The most diverse group of animals inhabiting sandy beaches is the meiofauna, which consists of species smaller than 1mm.  Due to difficulties in species identification, relatively little is known about the number of species, their molecular functions and their distribution along environmental gradients. Knowledge on the diversity and distribution of meiofaunal communities is important to gain a basic understanding of how these communities are adapted to environmental conditions.

Please reply by 10 December, preferred start date to be discussed.

Methods

Next -generation sequencing and data analysis

Supervisors

Jan Macher, Willem Renema

Contact

jan.macher@naturalis.nl; Willem.Renema@naturalis.nl

Period and duration

6-9 months (MSc)

Study and level

Biology, MSc or BSc.

Objectives
and goals

1) Assess taxonomic and functional diversity of sandy beach meiofaunal communities using molecular methods.

Meiofaunal communities will be sampled from beaches near Leiden. Samples will be taken along the environmental gradient from high-tide to low- tide level. DNA and RNA will be extracted, and next-generation sequencing techniques (metabarcoding and metatranscriptomics) will be used to assess the taxonomic and molecular functional diversity of communities based on genetic data. It is expected that molecular methods will lead to a greatly increased knowledge on the diversity of species and their distribution along gradients. 

Methods
tasks and approach

DNA extraction and PCRs to amplify marker genes. RNA extraction and sequencing library preparation. Data analysis using several bioinformatic steps and ecological statistical analyses.
 

The diversity of sandy beach meiofauna
The diversity of sandy beach meiofauna

 

Requirements

BSc degree in biology (in case of a bachelor’s project completion of the 1st and 2nd year of the biology program), including courses on  molecular techniques.