While the distribution and dynamics of macroscopic organisms in the marine environment have been well studied for many decades, similar observations are lacking for microorganisms.
This has been mainly due to technical limitations, however recent development in high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics allow us now to “observe” microorganisms in the natural environment in unprecedented scale and detail.
We have therefore established a large-scale coastal, microbial observatory program, which investigates the temporal and spatial dynamics of microbial communities in the water column, sediments and associated with corals, seaweeds, sponges and seagrasses. The outcome of this program will be one of the most comprehensive descriptions of microbial diversity and function in the coastal environment and a deeper understanding of how microbial systems respond to environmental change and, in turn, influence ecosystem function.
In this important project, we aim to define the assembly of microbial communities by functional properties rather than by the species.
Despite the lack of sunlight and nutrients, many deep-sea environments are full of coral reefs and sponge gardens. We’re aiming to understand how the metabolic capacity and versatility of symbiotic bacteria support their growth.
We’re attempting to define the temporal dynamics of gene transfer and how it shapes the genetic composition of entire bacterial communities.