Application of ‘omics’ approaches to microbial oceanography

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Systems Biology of Marine Ecosystems, 2017, pp. 223 - 233
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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017. Viruses, bacteria, archaea and single celled eukaryotes, collectively known as microbes, dominate the biomass and metabolism of ocean ecosystems. Marine microbes are highly abundant and critical to human survival, but the vast majority of taxa have not yet been cultured. The use of environmental nucleic acid sequencing as a cultivation-independent approach to microbial oceanography has therefore significantly expanded our understanding of the diversity, evolution, biogeography and important biogeochemical roles of marine microorganisms. Here we provide illustrative examples of how genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches have been applied to marine microbes to advance our understanding of their ecology. A remaining challenge is the need to link phenotypes to their environment, requiring a better understanding of genomic features that influence transcription (e.g. promoters and methylation) as well as post-translational modifications, and how such regulatory processes are impacted by extracellular abiotic and biotic processes. In addition, the expansion of available protein and taxonomic databases will greatly increase our capacity to link microbial function to specific taxa.
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