2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Do molecular data support high endemism and divergent evolution of Antarctic marine nematodes and their host-associated microbiomes?

Scanning Electron Microscopy image of an Odontophora sp. nematode worm. Photo by Jim Baldwin and Manuel Mundo-Ocampo.
B-252-N Research Location(s): East Antarctica


Event Number:

Program Director:
Dr. Maria Vernet

ASC POC/Implementer:
David Rivera / Jamee Johnson

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Holly Marie Bik
University of Georgia
Marine Sciences

Project Web Site:


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


The long isolation and unique biodiversity of the Southern Ocean represents an important case study region for understanding the evolution and ecology of populations. This study uses modern -omics approaches to evaluate the biodiversity, evolution, and ecology of Antarctic marine nematodes and their host-associated microbiomes from a variety of habitats collected at different depths. The results are producing an important baseline dataset of Antarctic meiofaunal diversity. All genomic resources generated in this project will be publicly accessible as open-source datasets with the potential for long-term scientific reuse. This project also supports diverse researchers from underrepresented backgrounds, and produces a suite of Antarctic-focused digital public outreach products.

Field Season Overview

This study will investigate the collection of molecular data from marine nematodes in the Eastern Antarctic continental shelf in order to develop a dataset for historical taxonomic studies. The project seeks to answer if nematode evolutionary histories and eurybathic species distributions contribute to distinct microbiome patters in Antarctic marine nematodes. The five-person team will participate on an expedition aboard the RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer in the Eastern Antarctic where they will employ a benthic sampling program. The team will primarily conduct over-the-side sampling operations using the U.S. Antarctic Program Megacorer with video/photo capabilities and possibly the Box corer. They will sample up to 50 stations at a cadence of two megacore casts per site and two sites per day with seven days of dedicated ship time utilized over the entire cruise. Most sample sites are located on the continental shelf at a depth range from 400-1000m, but the team would also like to obtain samples from at least two proximate deep sites at 3000m or deeper if possible.

Deploying Team Members

  • Holly Bik (PI)
  • Alejandro De Santiago Perez
  • Mirayana Marcelino Barros
  • Tiago Pereira
  • Virginia Schutte