Molecular Biology in Studies of Ocean Processes

Paul G. Falkowski, Julie LaRoche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This chapter discusses the potential value of molecular biology to biological oceanography with emphasis on the techniques that appropriate for use in the marine environment. It focuses on those techniques that can be modified for use at sea, techniques that are simple and low cost, and those that are relevant to major problems in oceanography. Molecular biology is the study of the structure, functional organization, and regulation of nucleic acids and proteins. Ocean processes include biogeochemical cycles, the evolution of marine organisms, population dynamics, systematics, and the physiological adaptation of organisms to a fluctuating ocean environment. A key focus in biological oceanography is the development of operational protocols to separate and enumerate organisms on the basis of their physiological or ecological functions. The plankton community mediates the fluxes of many biogeochemically important elements, including nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, sulfur, silica, phosphorus, and oxygen. Molecular biological approaches are divided into three major categories: (1) isolation and characterization of nucleic acids and proteins, (2) assay of either the pool size or rate of synthesis of specific proteins, genes, or RNA molecules, and (3) either direct or indirect experimental manipulation of the organisms to test specific hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-303
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Review of Cytology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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