FEMS Microbiology Ecology Best Talk Award: Taylor Priest

We send our congratulations to Taylor Priest, who won the Best Talk Award at the 9th International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology. This award sponsored by our journal FEMS Microbiology Ecology

The 9th International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology took place on the 9-14 October 2022 in Germany. FEMS Microbiology Ecology invites participants to submit manuscripts that include work presented at this conference to a Thematic  Issue on Polar and Alpine Microbiology (details are available here). Target submission deadline 31 Jan 2023.

Read our interview with Taylor about his research below:


What is your current position, and what was your scientific journey to get there?

I am currently a final-stage PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. For the past three and a half years, I have been fascinated by and focused on studying the ecology of microbes inhabiting the Arctic Ocean and high-latitude regions of the Atlantic Ocean. However, before that, in my Master’s degree, my time was dedicated to investigating marine fungi, in particular visualising and quantifying them using microscopy-based approaches. Before moving to Germany, I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University of Plymouth (UK).”


Could you describe the research your talk covered?

My presentation incorporated results from several recent and ongoing projects that aim to understand how microbial communities may respond to changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean. The particular area of focus for this research is the Fram Strait, which is the primary exit route for polar water and sea ice from the Arctic Ocean and major entry point for Atlantic water. The Fram is characterised by a spatial gradient of hydrographic regimes of Arctic, mixed and Atlantic origins as well as dramatic transformations in conditions over an annual cycle, due to its high-latitude location. By combining autonomously collected and ship-derived samples, we have generated an extensive dataset that we are able to use as a tool to understand how the structure and function of microbial communities and the dynamics of populations are influenced and shaped by the pronounced environmental gradients. At the heart of our analyses, which also was the basis for the results shown during the presentation, is long-read metagenomics, which allows us to assess whole community patterns. As one of the major perturbations occurring in the Eurasian Arctic is an expansion of Atlantic influence, investigating microbial communities at the interface between the two oceans is of great value to better understand how the Arctic Ocean microbiome may respond under future conditions.”


What do you hope to focus your research on in the future?

The Arctic is a region that truly fascinates me and I hope to continue to focus on how microbial communities have adapted to live there and how they are responding to the rapidly changing conditions. A project that I have already started working on is focused on understanding the impact of permafrost thaw and coastal erosion on microbial organic matter cycling in the coastal Arctic.”


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