2009 David Packard Distinguished Lecturer

Farooq Azam, Ph.D

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The Microbial Sea Around Us

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Pacific Forum—3:00 p.m.

The ocean ecosystems are changing–interactively with global climate change–and some changes may affect us in the time frames of years to decades. Understanding the mechanisms of change is an urgent need. Marine microbes play major roles in structuring the ocean’s ecosystems and response to global change. It is therefore essential that climate and ecosystem-based management integrate the in situ functions of the highly diverse communities of marine microbes. This is an intriguing challenge because our knowledge and intuition is very limited at the micrometer scale–the scale at which microbes “sculpt” the vast marine ecosystem. Understanding the ocean’s biogeochemical state at the nanometer to micrometer scale, and how and why it changes, promises fundamentally new knowledge and insights in the functioning of the ocean ecosystems. The microscale mechanistic and structural approach to the microbes’ influences on marine ecosystems should help understand the biogeochemical states of the future ocean.


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