2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Read the latest information from NSF on coronavirus (COVID-19)
2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Collaborative Research: ANT LIA Cumacean -Omics to Measure Mode of Adaptation to Antarctica (COMMAA)

Photo by Matt Louis. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
B-010-N Research Location(s): East Antarctica


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 2138993

Program Director:
Dr. Maria Vernet

ASC POC/Implementer:
Lesley Anderson / Jamee Johnson

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Sarah Anne Gerken
University of Alaska Anchorage


Supporting Stations: RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations: East Antarctica


Cumaceans are small marine crustaceans, commonly known as comma shrimp, that live in muddy or sandy bottom environments. In this program, cumaceans will be used as a model system to explore their biology and to evaluate invertebrate animal adaptations to the changing Antarctic. Integrative taxonomy, functional, comparative, and evolutionary genomics, and phylogenetic comparative methods will be used to evaluate diversity in different regions of the Antarctic and identify genes and gene families experiencing expansions, selection, or significant differential expression. A robust phylogenetic framework for Cumacea will be generated based on transcriptomes and genomes, and information related to the rates and timing of species diversification, which will significantly advance understanding of invertebrate adaptations to cold, stenothermic habitats. The broader impact activities include training for diverse early career scientists, K-12 education through schools and museums, and a variety of products for social media platforms. Curated morphological reference collections will be shared with public collections in the U.S. and in N.Z.

Field Season Overview

A science team of two people will join the RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer cruise to eastern Antarctica. The research team will sample for benthic invertebrates with benthic sleds, trawls, dredges, box corers, multi or mega corers, and grabs depending on substrate type. At most sites, a CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) rosette, box corers, and epibenthic sleds or trawls will be deployed. Living specimens will be sieved, sorted, and processed in a manner designed to facilitate observation and documentation of living specimens to ensure they are suitable for molecular work. When there isn't enough time to follow this process, samples will be bulk-fixed in buffered 95% ethanol or buffered 95% ethanol with 5% glycerin. Representative specimens of all species collected will be imaged live and preserved using the most appropriate preservation strategy for each taxon.

Deploying Team Members

  • Sarah Gerken (PI)
  • Victoria Vandersommen