Linda Westermann

University of Warwick


Novel metal containing enzymes: missing links in the marine P cycle?


Prof Dave Scanlan, Dr Claudia Blindauer, Dr Yin Chen

PhD Summary

The primary production in marine ecosystems is controlled by the availability of Phosphorus (P) which is an essential element for all life. Oceanic regions such as the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea show vanishingly low levels of P. Organisms of these regions have adapted to P limitation by the reduction of their cell and genome size but also by developing specific biochemical responses. These responses include the ability to acquire P from alternative sources such as organic phosphates or to replace phospholipids with other non-P containing lipids. I will biochemically characterise key enzymes which are involved in the P recycling of cyanobacteria (key primary producers) and heterotrophic bacteria (key nutrient recyclers) and determine the metal dependency of these proteins.

What inspires you

Since my early years, I have been fascinated about nature. My family and I always spent our summer holidays at the Mediterranean Sea where I fell in love with the ocean. Feeling the power of the water and exploring the ecosystem while snorkelling gave me a feeling of freedom nothing else could do. As Jacques Cousteau said: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

Previous activity

I started my bachelor degree course in Biology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in 2011. After successfully graduating in 2014, I moved to Rostock to accomplish my master’s degree in Marine Biology at the University of Rostock.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I never thought about undertaking a Doctoral Research when I started studying. Working on my master thesis however changed my mind. My interest in the marine phosphate cycle increased because of the impact it has on primary production and bloom formation of cyanobacteria and because of the rarity of Phosphorus and its shrinking deposits. The fact that Phosphorus is a limited resource for growing organisms makes Phosphorus a fascinating focus of research. Getting the chance of undertaking a Doctoral Research on my project will be a great chance for me to deepen my knowledge in this field of research.

Why did you choose CENTA?

Firstly, I applied for this CENTA studentship because of my huge interest in the PhD project. The project will perfectly complement my acquired knowledge and experience on my work with cyanobacteria concerning the marine phosphate cycle. Secondly, receiving a CENTA studentship will help me to fully concentrate on my research. Furthermore, I think the offered workshops will help me to broaden my methodical knowledge and to get ready to start a successful career in the scientific community.

Future plans

After my PhD, it would be great to continue research as a post-doc, especially in the field of marine cyanobacteria.