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Professor is part of Nature Communication study on ancient marine DNA in Antarctic sediment

The study demonstrates the utility of ancient DNA preserved in ocean floor sediment (sedaDNA) for reconstructing past marine environments and ecosystems

Posted in: CSAM Research, Earth & Environmental Studies

split sediment cores
Sediment cores, after being split in half, and subsampled for paleomagnetic analyses. The small plastic cubes are oriented subsamples used to measure the recording of the Earth’s magnetic field within the sediment.

Montclair State University Acting Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Dr. Stefanie Brachfeld, is co-author on a new study published in Nature Communications. The study was led by Dr. Linda Armbrecht at the University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and was conducted using sediment cores recovered during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 382 to the Scotia Sea, immediately north of the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica. Dr. Brachfeld sailed on the 2019 marine expedition and was part of the shipboard team that constructed the magnetostratigraphy, a tool for determining the age of the sediment via its ability to record past reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field.

The fragments are the oldest authenticated marine sedaDNA discovered to date – and these have been preserved due to factors like very low temperatures and oxygen concentrations, and an absence of UV radiation…To analyze these fragments, we use a new technique called sedaDNA analysis, which can help us decipher what has lived in the ocean in the past and when, across multiple ice-age cycles. With this knowledge, we can better predict how marine life around Antarctica will respond to ongoing climate change.

Dr. Armbrecht

This study is a wonderful example of the powerful new science that can be achieved when vastly different disciplines and techniques are integrated. Montclair State University has long been at the forefront of such interdisciplinary research, which is one of the guiding principles of our PhD program in Environmental Science and Management, now in its 20th year. I am proud to be part of this study, and proud of the Montclair personnel, both faculty students, who have represented our university in IODP projects.