Climate change is predicted to increase sea level, causing salt water intrusion in current freshwater enivronments. The increase in salinity facilitates brackish microbial communities to establish. In the Project „Radix“ two post docs and two PhD students in cooperation with Dr. Veljo Kisand investigate the influence of increasing salinity on the gut microbiota in a freshwater model organism (the common pond snail Radix balthica). The project in lead by the newly appointed professor for microbiology Daniel Herlemann. Prof. Herlemann worked previously at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Research, Warnemünde, where he investigated the influence of salinity on offshore bacterial community in the Baltic Sea, and at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology on the cellulose degrading gut microbiota of termites.
Radix is an optimal model system to investigate the influence of salinity on the gut microbiota of lower organisms since it is highly abundant in almost every freshwater system and even at lower salinities in the Baltic Sea. “This research project combines my research on the gut microbiome with my research on the salinity gradient of the Baltic Sea since Radix feeds on algae where the assistance of the gut microbiota is probably important” said Herlemann. The researchers expect to get new knowledge about the vulnerability organism to increasing salinity and get more insights into the mechanisms responsible for the shift in the microbial community caused by changes in salinity. Prof. Herlemann is supported for five-years by a Mobilitas Plus Top Researcher grant mainly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Research Foundation.