Welcome back, students! I hope you had a great holiday and are ready to get back to work. I’d like to send a special shout out to my friends at Coates Elementary School, in Herndon, Virginia. They gave me one of their awesome school shirts to wear to Antarctica, and as you can see, it contrasts nicely with the blue and white landscape.
Since you’re getting ready to learn, I thought I’d tell you more about what we’re trying to learn. Here are our main topics for this year’s research:
- Does the amount of daylight tell Belgica that it’s time to get ready for winter? (See Yuta’s last post for more details on this).
- What does Belgica‘s genome look like? (A genome is the full DNA sequence of a living thing. We will probably only investigate part of the genome.)
- Are Belgica from different islands (or different parts of the same island) genetically different from one another?
- What bacteria and fungi live in Belgica‘s digestive tract? Do any of those bacteria and fungi make Belgica sick? Or do they help Belgica digest its food?
- Does Belgica spend the winter frozen, or dehydrated?
We aren’t going to be able to figure all of this out while we’re here at Palmer Station. There will be many more months of field and lab work, and we will be getting help from scientists in Ohio, Illinois, the Czech Republic, and Japan!