Name: Thijs Frenken
Country: The Netherlands
Association: 1st year PhD Student at the department of Aquatic Ecology of the NIOO-KNAW
Topic: The role of pathogens in structuring phytoplankton bloom dynamics
For my PhD I am studying the effects of different pathogens on phytoplankton communities. In the scope of ongoing climate change, pathogenic pressure might change which might alter phytoplankton community dynamics. Since phytoplankton often represents a large share of the total biomass present in natural systems, only small changes in these primary producers can have large cascading effects for the entire aquatic food web. The main focus of my studies until now are the effects of temperature and nutrients on fungal parasitism of phytoplankton. These parasites can infect up to 90% of the total population and eventually lead to death. I completed a study in which we see clear effects of temperature on the infectivity and efficiency of the parasite. In this course I hope to gain more insight in how these host-parasite systems function and find possible explanations for processes which we, until now, do not understand.