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Studying effects of nutrient limitations on microbiome off the coast of Namibia, Angola & Congo

Thulani Makhalanyane

In our latest epsiode of the podcast, we continue to our journey around the southern Atlantic ocean, discussing the experience of our guest, Thulani Makhalanyane, as he sailed on board Tara to study regions of the ocean off the coasts of Namibia, Angola and Congo.

Thulani is a professor of microbial ecology and genomics at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa, and he was the chief scientist for the fourteenth leg of Mission Microbiomes, the latest expedition from the Tara Ocean Foundation. The leg went from Walvis Bay in Namibia, through Luanda in Angola and to Pointe Noire in Congo.

During our conversation, Thulani explains why it is important to study this part of the Atlantic, one of the most biologically productive regions, to get a better understanding of how it functions. The Namib Desert stretches across vast distances on the ocean coast, and runoff from its soil into the water contributes to enriching the sea with nutrients. What the scientists set out to understand is how this nutrient dense environment impacts the marine microbiome present there.

Thulani also shares his experience of being a scientist in South Africa, the challenges of under-representation of Africans in marine sciences and the work done by many people to address these issues. Our conversation also takes us to his time on the boat, through the regions visited, the memories made and the important conversations that took place.

Make sure you listen to the episode to get the full story as told by Thulani!

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