Molecular biology techniques and applications for ocean sensing
- Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street E&MS D446, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
Abstract. The study of marine microorganisms using molecular biological techniques is now widespread in the ocean sciences. These techniques target nucleic acids which record the evolutionary history of microbes, and encode for processes which are active in the ocean today. Molecular techniques can form the basis of remote instrumentation sensing technologies for marine microbial diversity and ecological function. Here we review some of the most commonly used molecular biological techniques. These techniques include the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse-transcriptase PCR, quantitative PCR, whole assemblage "fingerprinting" approaches (based on nucleic acid sequence or length heterogeneity), oligonucleotide microarrays, and high-throughput shotgun sequencing of whole genomes and gene transcripts, which can be used to answer biological, ecological, evolutionary and biogeochemical questions in the ocean sciences. Moreover, molecular biological approaches may be deployed on ocean sensor platforms and hold promise for tracking of organisms or processes of interest in near-real time.