Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute


Advances in understanding the temporal and spatial dynamics of marine microbes

Matthew J. Church, Ph.D.
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

University of Hawaii

Thursday, August 24, 2006

12:00 p.m. - Pacific Forum

Microbes are the engines of the sea, forming the base of aquatic food webs and catalyzing the transformation of bioessential elements. However, the diverse array of microbial metabolisms and the spatial and temporal complexity of aquatic habitats challenge our understanding of the role of planktonic microbes in marine ecosystems. Over the past several years, we have examined time-dependent variations in the activities and distributions of microbes in the central North Pacific Ocean. Our research has highlighted the important role of light energy in controlling the growth of heterotrophic microbes and characterized non-steady state behavior in plankton abundances and nutrient inventories. In addition, through examination of the expression and abundances of functionally important genes, we have begun to link microorganism dynamics to specific biogeochemical cycles. Such information highlights the need for integration of biogeochemical, genomic, and physiological sensing technologies with remote sampling platforms to better elucidate microbial dynamics.

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