Session 1: The microscopic engines of the oceans: role and strategies of marine microbes in a changing world

Hosts: A. Elisa Hernández-Magaña, Belén Franco-Cisterna, Bianca Biedrawa and Michael Lintner

Aim of this session: When you think about an engine, you probably visualize a big machine or some powerful device. Marine microorganisms are not precisely big, but they are powerful: they drive important mechanisms at global scales. Their role in the general circulation of elements on the Earth and in other life processes makes microorganisms key components in maintaining this planet working as well as the global ocean. In marine ecosystems, microorganisms play fundamental roles in all kinds of environments, including extreme habitats, where they have fascinating adaptation strategies. Even more, microorganisms are crucial for the development of our modern society. The knowledge about microbial diversity, physiology, and ecology has prompted great progress in medicine, industry, and research. 

Despite the importance of microbes, only a small percentage of microbial diversity is known, revealing a vast world of metabolisms, genes, interactions and more to be discovered. Thus, their study turns crucial in the context of climate change, which can lead to more extreme habitats and, consequently, to have an impact on microbial communities.

Expanding our knowledge about marine microorganisms and understanding how the interactions between microbes, other organisms and the environment drive the diversity patterns and marine functioning in the present and in possible future scenarios are the aims of this session. As well as, opening the dialogue and discussion about the current research on the role of these organisms, and how they can help us to predict the ocean responses towards projected climate change or, even, to find solutions to environmental problems caused by human activities.

We are looking for research that highlights the importance of bacteria, archaea, microbial eukaryotes and viruses in marine ecosystems, at different scales and with a wide range of approaches. This includes diversity, ecology, physiology, symbiotic relationships, biogeochemistry, biotechnology, bioremediation and sustainability, from the traditional microbiological techniques to the novel omics approaches. So, if you study marine microbes, this session is for you.  

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