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News from the ocean: an update from Mayi, on board of RRS Discovery for the AMT30


Mayibongwe Buthelezi, on board of RRS Discovery for the AMT30. ©Mayibongwe Buthelezi

Mayibongwe Buthelezi, a PhD student from the University of Pretoria, has embarked on RRS Discovery to participate in the 30th Atlantic Meridional Transect cruise (AMT30). AMT30 has departed from the Falkland Islands in February 2023 and is halfway towards completing the 6 weeks long cruise. After 3 weeks on board, Mayi tells us about his experience so far:




Science on board. ©Mayibongwe Buthelezi

“In this AMT30 expedition, we will be using AtlantECO standardised protocol to explore microbial coalescence associated with dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) cycling processes (synthesis and degradation) in the South and North Atlantic Ocean. DMSP is a multifunctional organic sulphur zwitterion that is produced in prodigious amount in the global ocean by manifold group of microorganisms. In the global ocean DMSP is a precursor of volatile organosulfur compound dimethlysulfide (DMS) which get emitted into the atmosphere and contribute to the formation of cloud albedo. The process that mitigates and scatter the amount of solar radiation at least in oceanic remote areas. Our approach aims at deciphering the biogeographic traits of DMSP synthesis and degradation using a strong correlation of computational analysis of microbial taxa and genes, DMSP standing stock, ocean productivity such as chlorophyl-a content and abiotic parameters such as nutrients. This study will give us a comprehensive understanding of how the Atlantic Ocean contribute to the feedback loop mechanisms especially in the era of changing climate, microbial food web and networking associated with DMSP availability.


Science and sunsets, a magical combination! ©Mayibongwe Buthelezi

We have started with the AMT-30 cruise on the RRS Discovery on the 21st of February. I am thrilled and delighted to be part of this lifetime opportunity offered to me by AtlantECO and MicrobiomeUP. It's been an amazing experience to witness and contribute to the diversity of multi-research currently underway on board. I am without a doubt learning meaningful things each day about the Atlantic Ocean and now getting more and more intrigued about post cruise samples analyses


The daily work schedule and number of samples I am processing have unleashed some capabilities and reinforced my independence. I am thankful for the immense remote help and guidance from my PI Prof. Thulani Makhalanyane and our collaborators Dr Stéphane Pesant, Dr Frances Hopkins, Dr Ornella Carrion Fonseca and Prof. Jonathan Todd. Thanks to the support and healthy working environment led by our chief scientist Dr Andy Rees, all scientists and everyone onboard, it’s an honour to be on this cruise with them.”


Beautiful sunrise at 6 N and -25 W (13/03/23). ©Mayibongwe Buthelezi

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