The PMEL Ocean Molecular Ecology group collaborated with the PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions Program (EOI) in March-April 2023 in an ocean exploration effort to identify and describe new hydrothermal sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The expedition took place on the Schmidt Ocean Institute's new vessel the RV Falkor (too).
The group found a suite of never before documented hydrothermal vent fields. Sean McAllister, a member of Ocean Molecular Ecology, participated through the collection of environmental (e)DNA samples in transects over the sites of hydrothermal venting, ultimately providing a picture of biodiversity of microbial to macrofauna communities. Individual tissue samples were also taken to enhance reference barcode databases and improve eDNA taxonomic assignment accuracy. In addition, while underway, Sean was able to extract and sequence the eDNA samples collected using a Nanopore long-read DNA sequencer to generate near real-time characterizations of the microbial and invertebrate communities at the hydrothermal vent sites. Visit the expedition website, view the cruise log which includes science blog posts and a highlights, and check out the dive stream for all ROV dives to learn more about these exploratory efforts.