Marine phytoplankton, support almost all oceanic ecosystems. The dynamics of plankton populations are therefore a key component of the global carbon cycle. Simple models of infection coupled to ecology  have highlighted the potentially important role of virus infection of oceanic phytoplankton in the cycling of nutrients and carbon. Since virustriggered death and rupture of phytoplankton retains organic carbon in surface waters, it may decrease the amount of atmospheric carbon that is sequestered in the deep ocean by the ‘biological pump’, of which the flux of sinking phytoplankton cells is a key component. The global significance of viruses in the carbon cycle can only be understood through oceanic ecosystem models that account for this “viral loop”, which requires the integration of eco-epidemiological models of phytoplankton with large-scale ocean general circulation and biogeochemical models. Such understanding is necessary to assess how viruses may influence predictions of the carbon cycle and to inform future climate change scenarios [2,3]. This project presents an excellent opportunity for students with a mathematical background that are interested in moving into Environmental Sciences; as well as to students from Biological, Earth or Chemical Sciences interested in learning mathematical and computational modelling.
The INSPIRE DTP programme provides comprehensive personal and professional development training alongside extensive opportunities for students to expand their multidisciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/policy partners. The student will be registered at the University of Southampton and hosted at the National Oceanography Centre. Specific training will include: use of HPC facilities at the NOC; use of global circulation and biogeochemical models; use of the Transport Matrix framework; epidemiological modelling; biological-chemical-physical interactions; computer model coding and analysis.
 C.J. Rhodes and A.P. Martin. The influence of viral infection on a plankton ecosystem undergoing nutrient enrichment. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 265(3):225-237, 2010.
 Lionel Guidi et al. Plankton networks driving carbon export in the oligotrophic ocean. Nature, 532:465-470, 2016.
 M. Middelboe and C.P.D. Brussaard. Marine viruses: Key players in marine ecosystems. Viruses, 9(10):302, 2017.