Molecular microbial oceanography
Project Manager/Lead Scientist: Ed DeLong
This project will continue to develop and refine new approaches to qualitatively and quantitatively describe microbial species and their activities in the sea. We will develop and implement new genome-enabled technologies, to better characterize microbially mediated biogeochemical processes.
From MBARI-developed platforms, we will apply new methods for sampling and measurement throughout the water column and in the benthos—such as characterization of newly discovered modes of light-mediated energy generation in surface water bacterioplankton and novel modes of carbon fixation in the water column. We plan to better characterize poorly understood planktonic Archaea that comprise about 20% of all microbial cells in the ocean and that have recently been implicated in
CO2 fixation in the deep sea.
In the benthos, we will characterize the biological mechanisms of anoxic methane consumption, a microbial process that cycles large amounts of sub-seafloor methane and fuels chemosynthetic communities at methane seeps.
With colleagues at the University of Washington, we will begin investigations of microbial species and processes at hydrothermal vents. Dives with ROV Tiburon at the Endeavor Ridge will take place in summer 2004, to conduct a comprehensive spatial survey of microbial species in vent fields. Laboratory work will develop and implement new genomics-oriented methods for their study. In 2004, we will also initiate a pilot study to explore the development of microarrays (a.k.a. DNA chips), to “bar code” and survey microbial populations in oceanic plankton and at hydrothermal vent sites