On the 21 June 2015, the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, Lwandle, in partnership with the University of the Western Cape, Lawhill Maritime School and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, partook in International Ocean Sampling Day, a global initiative which aims to promote the simultaneous sampling of microbes in the world’s oceans.
This is the second year that Lwandle has participated in this campaign, which is headed by the European research group ‘Micro B3’, and promotes the simultaneous sampling of microbes in the world’s oceans to provide a global set of samples that are all related in time, space and respective environments. “Micro B3” stands for “Microbial Biodiversity, Bioinformatics and Biotechnology”, and is a collaborative project which aims to address the current lack of marine microbe biodiversity research through the use of current sequencing technologies. Ocean Sampling Day is one of the initiatives promoted to increase global knowledge of marine microbe diversity and ultimately to provide a global reference dataset. OSD also serves to make the developments of Micro B3 transparent and accessible, by making results publicly available.
Lwandle hopes to lead by example and promote South African involvement in these important global initiatives. We believe that our involvement is important on a number of levels, not only in ensuring that the lack of research on global marine microbial diversity is addressed, but also in ensuring that the South African environment is represented in these global data sets. Additionally on a more local scale Lwandle believes in the promotion of marine science to South African school learners to expand career prospects and encourage the marine scientists of tomorrow. This year, we conducted the sampling in partnership with Lawhill Maritime School, where four enthusiastic learners were selected to join Lwandle scientists in collecting and processing water samples.
The sampling team, headed by Lwandle marine scientists, collected six five litre surface water samples from a site registered on the OSD database near Robben Island. A CTD cast, to provide information about the physical environment from which the samples were collected was also conducted. Sampling was conducted off of the Fathom 10, a vessel very kindly provided by CPUT. Despite a few bouts of seasickness, the Lawhill pupils thoroughly enjoyed their day out at sea and ended back on shore with smiles on their faces.
The samples were then transported to the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics for processing. Dr Bronwyn Kirby from UWC supervised the filtering of the water samples for the collection of microbial material, and even allowed the learners to make slides to view what we were looking for in the water samples under microscopes. Pupils were also taught about proper laboratory protocol and scientific methods for DNA sampling. Once the samples were filtered, they were preserved for transport to Germany, where DNA analysis of each sample will take place at the Micro B3 labs.
All in all, Ocean Sampling Day 2015 was a great success, with all involved being thrilled to contribute to such an exciting initiative. A special thanks must go to CPUT for providing the boat and UWC for providing the laboratory facilities. Lwandle looks forward to our participation in OSD in 2016.
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