Our team

Principal Investigators

Professor Alexandre Anesio

Aarhus University

Alex's research combines molecular and biogeochemical approaches to determine microbial functionality and activity in the cryosphere. His previous research demonstrated that microbial activity at the surface of glaciers and ice sheets are responsible for significant carbon with implications for biogeochemical cycles at local and global scales. As part of DEEP PURPLE, he is particularly interested in how the different actors in the ice microbial community (viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae) interact with each other and with their physical and chemical environment to build an ice sheet biome.

Email; ama@envs.au.dk

Twitter: @AlexAnesio

Professor Liane G. Benning

GFZ Potsdam

Liane leads the interface-geochemistry group at GFZ Potsdam, which studies molecular level microbe-mineral-fluid interactions. Her team’s work in the Arctic focuses on understanding the kinetics and mechanisms of mineral – organic matter – microbe inter-transformations in inorganic and biological particulates in snow and ice. For DEEP PURPLE, the GFZ team will focus on questions related to how cryogenic algae colonise and bio-mine mineral surface for crucial nutrients. They will quantify the role of algal-driven particulate / mineral-nutrient utilisation in organic carbon cycling and assess the effect of such processes on the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Email; benning@gfz-potsdam.de

Twitter: @lianegbenning

Professor Martyn Tranter

Aarhus University

Martyn has a long-standing interest in the rock-water-microbe interactions, a spectrum of which occur within the different microbiological niches on the surface of the ice sheet. He is particularly interested in how the microbes acquire and recycle nutrient from atmospheric and snow/ice sources, which following the presence of liquid water, is likely to be one of the key drivers, of microbial growth and pigmentation. He also has an interest in understanding how the architecture of the rotting surface ice impacts on the mobility and concentration of particulates and glacier algae, which in turn impacts on the albedo of the surface ice.

Email; martyn.tranter@envs.au.dk

Twitter: @MartynTranter1

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr Joseph Cook

Aarhus University

Joseph is responsible for the overall work package strategy and has particular expertise in albedo measurement and modelling. He has developed the BioSNICAR models for calculating the albedo-reducing effects of glacier algae and published extensively on the interactions between biological and physical processes on ice surfaces. His field work experience includes >15 on-ice camps in Greenland in all seasons and he has explored deep beneath the ice sheet surface in a series of ice caving expeditions.

Twitter: @tothepoles

Dr Stefanie Lutz

GFZ Potsdam

Steffi's research focuses on the microbial diversity, function and ecology of Arctic glaciers, important primary producers and colonisers, nutrient cycling, and the various biochemical adaptations of cryophiles (snow and glacial ice algae in particular) to stress factors. She is also interested in the contribution of microbial abundance and activity to decreased albedo values of glacial surfaces and the effect on glacial melt rates. Steffi is using a multi-disciplinary approach combining microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics and geochemistry. Within the DEEP PURPLE project she is using various ‘omics’ techniques to get a better understanding of cryophilic algae on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Twitter: @SteffiLutz

Dr Laura Perini

Aarhus University

Laura was a Marie Curie PhD fellow at the University of Ljubljana, within the MicroArctic project, studying the abundance and diversity of fungal and bacterial communities inhabiting different glacial habitats of the Arctic region. Her research interests focus on extremophile microorganisms, including psychrophilic and psychrotolerant fungi, bacteria, and algae, and understanding their dynamics. Laura's goal in DEEP PURPLE will be to identify which type of interactions exist between microbial communities thriving on the surface ice of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Microcosm experiments will be performed to clarify how algal physiology is affected by bacterial activity and fungal secondary metabolites production. Furthermore, additional experiments will enable to assess the role of zoosporic fungi and viruses as ‘top-down’ controls on the glacier algal community.

Twitter: @LauPer89

Dr Pamela Rossel Cartes

GFZ Potsdam

Pamela’s research focuses on the analysis of complex organic mixtures from a wide range of systems. She has been assessing their variability in relation to environmental drivers and the present microbial communities. In the last years, part of her work has been performed with sediments and porewaters of the deep Arctic Ocean. Because she continues to be captivated by the Arctic region, she has recently joined the DEEP PURPLE team. Her goal in the project is to study the dynamic and fate of organic compounds in snow and algae dominated systems, and their association with the presence of microorganisms. She will use targeted and untargeted mass spectrometric approaches in combination with contextual data from cryogenic systems in order to reveal the biogeochemical processes regulating the variability of organic species and their potential contribution to the melting of Greenland ice sheet.

Twitter: @pamela_rossel

Dr Ian Stevens

Aarhus University

Ian completed his PhD exploring the eco-hydrology of glacial surfaces at Aberystwyth University, studying the physical parameters of the near-surface weathering crust and the microbial abundance of surface meltwaters at field sites across the Northern Hemisphere from the high Arctic to the European Alps. His research interest focuses on elucidating hydrological processes within the weathering crust, exploring water, particulate and microbial fluxes through this aquifer to the channelised supraglacial hydrological system. To achieve this goals, Ian has a passion for method development, including designing and building custom sensors to measure previously unrecorded parameters. Ian’s role in DEEP PURPLE will be to continue to obtain empirical measurements of the weathering crust, informing modelling and upscaling approaches, and enabling assessment the provision of water to ice-surface algae.

Twitter: @theianstevens

Dr Chris Trivedi

GFZ Potsdam

Chris’ graduate work focused on extreme microorganisms living on a sulfur-dominated glacier in the Canadian High Arctic. He continues to be interested in extremophile populations, and currently researches microorganisms in the context of glacial melt dynamics and climate change processes. In particular Chris is interested in snow and ice algae and their impact on glacial albedo and carbon transformation processes in Arctic environments. Moreover, his goal within the DEEP PURPLE project is to disentangle the roles that algae and other microorganisms play in these ecosystems. This will be accomplished by using a combined ‘omics’ approach, using targeted amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metabolomics to uncover processes sustaining these organisms and allowing them to thrive in these extreme glacial environments.

Twitter: @Chris_Trivedi

PhD students

Marie Bolander

Aarhus University

Marie is a PhD student in Alex Anesio's group at Aarhus University. She studied biology-biotechnology at the University of Copenhagen with a main focus and interest in microbiology, especially dealing with microbial interactions. As a part of DEEP PURPLE her PhD project will aspire to understand how glacier ice algae thrive and survive on the Greenland Ice Sheet. This will be done by investigating the impact of environmental factors on the production of stress induced enzymes. Besides looking at the adaptation of the glacier ice algae towards GrIS, she is also going to explore the production pathway of purpurogallin in the algae.

Twitter: @MarieBolander

Lou Chevrollier

Aarhus University

Lou studied energy and environmental engineering in France before finding her way into natural sciences. She has always been fascinated by the role of polar regions in our climate system and concerned about the dramatical changes ongoing in the Arctic, accelerating global warming. As part of Deep Purple she will be looking into trying to disentangle the albedo-reduction effect of the different components of the rotting ice environment, combining field measurements and modelling experiments. In particular, she will work on refining numerical models to better reproduce and understand the role of glacier algae among the other light absorbing particles and within the changing ice structure.

Twitter: @LouChevrollier

Eva Doting

Aarhus University

Eva’s PhD project focusses on ‘Microbial Signatures in the Cryosphere’. She uses metabolomics approaches such as Ion Chromatography - High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS), Liquid Chromatography - HRMS and Gas Chromatography - MS to study samples from different parts of the cryosphere. As part of DEEP PURPLE, she will explore the volatilome of microbial communities living on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Additionally, she is working on the screening of marine sediment cores collected around Greenland in search for a glacier algae biomarker that may be used for paleo-environmental reconstruction of the temporal and spatial distribution of glacier algae.

Twitter: @EvaDoting

Shunan Feng

Aarhus University

Shunan is interested in understanding the process and climate response of earth surface, particularly time series analysis by combining the in-situ measurement, remote sensing or other geospatial data and model results. This had led him to focus on remote sensing during his bachelor study and specialize in glaciology during my master study in Uppsala University. He also worked as remote sensing associate in the International Committee of the Red Cross. His role in Deep Purple will be trying to monitor the variability of the albedo of rotting ice surfaces in the Dark Zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet at different scales using remote sensing data (satellite, drone imagery).

Twitter: @GeoShunan

Laura Halbach

Aarhus University

Laura is a PhD student in Alex Anesio’s research group at Aarhus University and is excited about microbial processes in the Arctic and their interactions with their icy environment. As part of DEEP PURPLE, she combines field work and laboratory experiments to study the pigmentation and photophysiology of glacier algae and its implications for lowering the albedo of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Laura is also interested in understanding the growth dynamics of glacier algae and will therefore also look into the nutrient and carbon cycling within the microbial community on the ice surface.

Twitter: @LauraHalbach

Ate Jaarsma

Aarhus University

Ate has a background in molecular biology, studying the smallest building blocks of life. From his studies at the University of Groningen, he is experienced in the production and engineering of antimicrobial peptides. He also worked on biotechnological applications of contact-dependent inhibition at Uppsala University. His project within DEEP PURPLE will cover the survival mechanisms and biotechnological potential of microorganisms living on the Greenland ice sheet. In particular, he is interested in the competitive survival strategies that these microorganisms use in their interactions with each other. By studying these interactions, he will explore the biotechnological potential of (antimicrobial) secondary metabolites and enzymes that may be useful to humans.

Twitter: @AteJaarsma

Rey Mourot

GFZ Potsdam

Rey is a PhD student in Liane G. Benning’s group at GFZ Potsdam, in Germany. They studied ecology and evolution at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and have a background in astrobiology. As part of DEEP PURPLE, they focus on both experimenting on field samples with diverse cryo techniques – Cryo-SEM, Cryo CT - and reproducing glacial environments in the lab, to study microbial communities interactions and their survival thought freezing-thawing cycles and in the snow-ice transition.

Twitter: @Rey_Mourot

Elisa Peter

GFZ Potsdam

Elisa joins the DEEP PURPLE team this autumn as a PhD student in Liane Benning's research group. She brings a background in pharmaceutical and food chemistry, focusing on the analysis and production of natural compounds from plants and fungi using liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and bioprocess engineering. Driven by her curiosity for a largely unexplored ecosystem, Elisa is excited to investigate the adaptation, interaction and dynamics of microbial communities on the Greenland Ice Sheet and their impact on albedo reduction and glacier melting.

Twitter: @ElisaKPeter

Project support

Lasse Twiggs Degn

Aarhus University

Sandy Herrmann

GFZ Potsdam

Richard Westaway

Aarhus University & University of Bristol

All team members listed above are directly contributing to DEEP PURPLE research, though not all are fully funded by the ERC grant due to various institutional co-funding arrangements.

Project alumni

Daniel Rissi

GFZ Potsdam