Microbiological Targets for Ocean Observing Laboratories

Marine microbial communities control and are controlled by the ocean ecosystems. Although we have recently learned much about the diversity, genomics and physiology of microbial community components, we know little about the relationship of microbial community structure to the physical and chemical dynamics of the oceans, including long-term environmental change. Monitoring only the general aspects of microbial community, such as pigment concentration and cell numbers, is not sufficient to explain current or to predict future changes in the ocean ecosystems. Molecular targets, chosen carefully have the potential to provide detailed and informative data on the physiological status of each component in microbial community, on microbial interactions, and on biogeochemical processes. Specific molecular probes have been developed and implemented in a low-throughput assays, but only for a limited set of genes and organisms. Thus, the ultimate goal of the MicroTOOLs project is to build a comprehensive suite of molecular probes and implement the suite in standardized assays used worldwide to provide high-throughput high-resolution view on biogeochemistry and changes in the oceans from microbial community perspective.  Reaching this goal requires extensive knowledge and expertise from both marine microbial ecologists and microbial molecular biologists and is only possible as a coordinated collaboration.