Skip to content

Information for students, faculty and staff regarding COVID-19. (Updated: 26 February 2021)


Adaptive strategies of Arctic prokaryotes at extremely low growth rates

Research project Prokaryotes in the Oceans have a crucial role in the global cycles of elements like carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. Little is known about the adaptation of microorganisms to nutrient shortage and cold, despite that these conditions dominate in the world ocean and thereby their ecology and evolution.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2019-06-01 2021-05-30


The Kempe foundation.

Swedish Polar Research Secretariat

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå Marine Sciences Centre (UMF)

Research subject

Biological sciences

Project description

Our study will clarify how efficient prokaryotes adapt their expression of genes and cell structure to be competitive at cold climate and low nutrient availability. This will explain what activities the significant maintenance respiration observed in marine prokaryotes is supporting. We will investigate genetic transfer between prokaryotes via membrane channels formed, and other cell structures like pili and flagella, with the awarded cryo-electron microscopy. Gene expression at decreased temperature or growth reduced by lower nutrient availability will complement these studies. The project contribute to advance knowledge about climate change effects in the Arctic and basic understanding of the ecology and evolution of the oldest organisms on Earth, and their influence on the cycling of major elements.

Part of the study is performed in the sub-Arctic northern Baltic Sea. The results have a regional value to better control prokaryotic processes at cold conditions like waste water treatment or biotechnological industrial processes. Application of cryo-electronmicroscopy is asses to be in the research frontier, where access to Umeå Core facility for Electron Microscopy (UCEM) gives a competitive advantage for the project. That is also the case with the mesocosm-facility at Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, recently equipped with ice-forming capacity. The project is part of the strategic research programme EcoChange, supported but the EU-project Aquacosm and plan to participate in the international Synoptic Arctic Survey 2020, of strategic importance for Umeå University and its aim to be an Arctic science centre.