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Miss Joanne Boden

I am interested in the biogeography of cyanobacteria. They were the first photosynthetic organisms to evolve on our planet and are now widespread from cold glacial habitats at the poles to warm tropical oceans near the equator. Many species are important ecosystem engineers, generating organic nitrogen and carbohydrates which facitate the growth of other algae and plants. This is particularly important in the cryosphere and especially on the surface of glaciers where there are few external sources of organic nitrogen and where freezing temperatures and lack of water make it difficult for other organisms to survive. I investigated how cold Snowball Earth climates drove the evolution of these cold-tolerant cyanobacteria by implementing a Bayesian molecular clock on a phylogenetic tree of more than 100 polar and alpine species. My findings are currently being reviewed as part of the grading process for my taught MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy, but I hope to build on them in future, providing a picture of how life survived in extremely cold paleoclimates. Until then, I am focussing my research efforts on how the diversification of nitrogen-fixing bacteria has affected global nutrient cycles.