I am a molecular biologist with a master’s degree in marine biology from the Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Turkey.
My interests in ecology and evolutionary biology grew during my bachelor with a curiosity about the organization of the higher levels of life. In addition to a personal interest and a theoretical education, I did an internship with fieldwork in a research project conducted by the Limnology Laboratory, METU, which aims to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies for warming lakes by understanding how inland waters respond to climatic changes on a spatial scale. Upon graduation, I started my master on DNA barcoding and molecular phylogenetics for marine biodiversity assessments. I worked closely with taxonomists during this period and gained an understanding of the major role of taxonomy for biodiversity and it’s conservation. After completion of my master, I worked at the Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory, Ankara University for two years on DNA barcoding and eDNA metabarcoding of fish species in Turkey. I want to use my experience and further develop myself on the applications of molecular tools to understand the human impact on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity.
In my Plant.ID project, “Metabarcoding of aquatic flora for fresh water quality monitoring”, I will work on the assessment of the quality of fresh waters by identifying and quantifying indicator plant species using DNA-based methods. This type of regulatory biomonitoring activities in natural waters are implemented by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Europe. However, in view of the current anthropogenic threats to freshwater ecosystems, the methods currently used by environmental agencies are time-consuming and labor-intensive, relying primarily on microscopic identification of organisms in water aliquots. Thus, we aim to develop a novel method primarily by using a selection of diatoms, freshwater algae and macrophytes as indicator organisms. Innovative DNA markers will be developed and fresh water samples of different qualities will be used for genomic analysis of DNA. I will collaborate with ESR7, ESR9, and ESR11 for the development of genomic markers. Metabarcodes and species identifications obtained from high-throughput sequencing and species abundances from ddPCR analysis will subsequently be compared to the results from conventional microscopy.
Obtaining such unbiased estimates of species abundance and biomass can help to improve biomonitoring applications and human impact assessments.