Marine biology science: Important approaches and popular research methodologies.
Marine biology deals with the study of behaviors and interactions of marine organisms with the environment. It involves the study of wide variety of disciplines from various fields like astronomy, biological oceanography, biological chemistry ecology, geology, meteorology.
Approaches in Marine biology
Recent developments in the field of science and molecular sequencing are aiding for expanding our knowledge about the patterns and process influencing the diversity of life in oceans. It has also guided us in biodiversity assessments and revealing previously unknown genetic and functional diversity.
Some of the important approaches that have helped in attaining valid information about the marine life include:
a. Next generation sequencing
The development of Next Generation Sequencing Method in marine biology is offering an insight into genome, transcriptome and metabolome of many species. The studies on genetic variation of model fish system provides us data about the adaptation and persistence mechanism for conservation biology and biodiversity assessment It has found immediate application in the model marine organization.
The genome of bottle nose dolphin has thrown a light on dolphin's nervous system evolution and reveals the relationships with large brained mammals such as humans.Transcriptome analysis are more broadly used where genome sequences are unknown.
b. Metagenomics and Proteomics
With the developments in metagenomic techniques and proteomics sequencing and characterization of uncultured biological samples have become practical. This approach proved to be helpful in understanding the uncovered compositions functions and interactions occurring in the microbial community at different environments. Faster technologies in sequencing and ability to sequence a broad spectrum of uncultured microbes sampled directly from their habitats is a revolutionizing developments in the present era. The researches in proteomics revealed important association between protein diversity and ecological functions in marine microbial community.
The metabolites present in the cells, tissues and organ as well as the population level has become ground breaking advancement in cataloging bioactive components. It yields progress in understanding the variations in abundance of protein and their subsequent post translational modifications.
D.N.A barcoding using mitochondrial C oxidase is another indispensable approach for morphology based identification. The important aspect of DNA barcoding is the collecting and maintaining of samples as voucher samples, which provide means for identifying the species from which data is obtained. The voucher specimen provides permanent information for investigating the marine population.
e. Immunochemical Methods
It helps to detect the molecules on the surface of the cell or in extracts. It has been used to detect bacteria, phytoplankton and adult marine organisms.
f. Isozyme Analysis
This is done by electrophoresis of cell extract by staining to identify the protein electro morphs has revealed the genetic variation at molecular level within the species. These methods have proven to be effective to differentiate among species and analyze the transport process in oceans.
g. Nucleic Acid Hybridization
It can be used to discriminate among organisms that do not possess distinguishing morphological features. It can be used to identify major groups of organisms within a group of closely related organisms.
h. RFLP Analysis
It is used to identify the genetic composition of organisms. The genomic, mitochondrial and chloroplast DNA are digested by restriction enzymes and are separated by electrophoresis to form patterns that could be later analyzed by statistical methods. The similar patterns are compared and have been used to identify the origin of individual.
i. DNA Sequence Analysis
In this the actual sequence of nucleotide are determined and is used to study genetic relationship within and among marine organisms.
j. Flow Cytometry
Flow cytometry has been used for analyzing cell in biochemical research has been used for the study of marine organisms. Multichannel cytometers has been developed in the present day with the capacity to understand and count the plankton species automatically. Flow cytometry can also be used at sea to separate and count selected plankton by natural fluorescence emission.
k. Microscopic Technique
New microscopic techniques that creates high resolution can be used to determine functional relationships of organisms, to understand development, and to evaluate molecular mechanisms such as ligand-receptor binding.
The ultimate aim of any scientific research is to find the truth. Like any scientific discipline marine biology also follows scientific method. The scientific method is a process for exploring the experimentations, observations and answer questions. It aims at integrating and correcting previous knowledge
Steps in scientific Method
The steps in scientific methods are shaped starting from general questions to narrowing down to focus on specific aspect and designing research where we focus on observing and analyzing the aspect. The steps in scientific method include:
a. Identifying the research problem
A research is organized by formulating and defining a research problem.
b. Collection of information
The data are gathered based on the research problem. The data collection involves collecting the specimens, visiting the place of interest etc.
c. Formulating hypothesis
d. A hypothesis is an intentional guess. Based on the observation regarding the data the investigator will formulate hypothesis which he can reject or accept in the final conclusions.
e. Analyzing the data
The data collected are analyzed and the unwanted and vague information are discarded. The information obtained are analyzed and arranged in meaningful manner.
f. Drawing Conclusion
Based on the information gathered and final analysis the conclusion is obtained. In this stage the investigator can either accept or reject his hypothesis.
Scientific method involves two ways of thinking
It is a thinking process in which one beginning from separate observations and arriving at general principles. It is a bottom up approach. In this an investigator moves from examples to general principles.
It is a strategy in which we move from general principles to specific observations. It is a top down approach.
Science can provide evidence on factors related to maintenance of biodiversity in our planet such as food for some predators place to live for some parasites and potential control on population size of prey. Science however cannot provide answers concerning the value of enjoyment, but science can help us decide who benefits the most.