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Microbial interactions driven by organic and inorganic metabolic exchange and their role in present and future biogeochemical cycles

Project description

A ‘blueprint’ of the algal-bacterial metabolic circuits underlying biogeochemical carbon cycling

Micro-algae and bacteria may be tiny but there are billions of them, and they play essential roles in the big picture – carbon cycling, global CO2 sequestration, and climate change. Global warming changes our oceans, affecting algal-bacterial interactions and the processes they modulate. A plethora of complex and often unknown metabolic chains underlie many of these interactions including biogeochemical carbon cycling. The ERC-funded BioGeoMicrobes project will combine microbiology and Earth sciences approaches to generate a ‘blueprint’ of the metabolic circuits shaping algal-bacterial-environmental interactions. Unveiling mechanisms of microbial interactions under various environmental conditions will shed light on how future climate will impact these interactions and the processes they drive.

Objective

Many biogeochemical processes, such as carbon cycling in marine ecosystems, are driven by interactions between micro-algae and bacteria. Global warming changes our oceans, impacts algal-bacterial interactions, and affects the processes these interactions propel. If we are to find ways to ameliorate the effects of global warming, we need to understand the molecular mechanisms that mediate these key algal-bacterial interactions, and integrate this knowledge into a biogeochemical context. A major challenge in studying these interactions – often mediated by secreted metabolites – is their complexity in nature. Therefore, we established ecologically relevant model systems with tunable complexities including algal-bacterial co-cultures, genetically tractable synthetic communities, and mini-cosms to study such interactions in context. These allow us to monitor and manipulate algae, bacteria, and their environment. We will combine microbiology and Earth sciences approaches to generate a “blueprint” of metabolic circuits that shape the algal-bacterial-environmental interaction landscape. Specifically, we will study:

1) The organic and inorganic secreted metabolome of algae and bacteria.
2) The physiological response of algae and bacteria to specific organic and inorganic metabolites, and the metabolic circuitry connecting algae, bacteria, and the marine environment.
3) The influence of climate change on algal-bacterial-environmental interactions, gaining insight into how key players in the ocean will likely respond to future climate.

Unveiling mechanisms of microbial interactions under various environmental conditions allows us to understand how future climate will impact these interactions and the processes they drive. Our interdisciplinary research offers a novel framework for studying the role of microbial interactions in biogeochemical cycling, it will contribute to improved climate change models, and will provide valuable data for ocean stewardship policy makers.

Host institution

WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 999,00
Address
HERZL STREET 234
7610001 Rehovot
Israel

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 1 499 999,00

Beneficiaries (1)