Meet FEMS Research and Training grantee Noga Barak
Research and Training Grants are meant to assist early career scientists in pursuing research and training at a European host institution in another country than their own country of residence.
Noga Barak: Department of Marine Biology, University of Haifa, Israel
Host supervisor and host laboratory: Prof. Gerhard Herndl, Department of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, University of Vienna, Austria
Dates: 4 October to 30 December 2022
FEMS Member Society Membership: Israel Society for Microbiology
I have always had a love for nature, especially the sea. I find it fascinating how much life exists beneath the surface and how little we know about it. This is why I decided to pursue my passion for the sea through academic studies. I am a marine biologist specialized in microbiology, currently working on my PhD. My research focuses on host-bacteria interactions, particularly jellyfish-bacteria interactions. I am studying these interactions from the early stages of the jellyfish life cycle to the mature jellyfish in the context of natural, large-scale blooms. These blooms are immense, both in the number of individuals and in their dispersal throughout the oceans and seas, with severe ecological, economic, and health effects. Studying the jellyfish-bacteria interaction can help us understand the role of microorganisms in the rise and demise of blooms, to what extent jellyfish blooms affect the ecology of surrounding organisms, and shed light on early relationships between bacteria and one of the most ancient complex organisms. My model organism is Rhopilema nomadica, the most abundant jellyfish in Eastern Mediterranean blooms. My aims are to characterize the jellyfish microbiome across its life cycle, identify bacterial traits differentiating between different stages of the jellyfish development, and test the importance of specific strains (or traits) on jellyfish development and health by modifying its microbiome.
Overall, I had a very positive experience and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. Being part of a high-level research group was a pleasure and I was exposed to new methods and different ways of thinking. The lab members were knowledgeable and supportive, and they made me feel welcome from the very beginning. They were always available to answer my questions and provide guidance. It was an enriching and educational experience that I believe will help me grow both personally and professionally. I would repeat it without hesitation.’’