About This Project
This project will characterize the microbial community structure and biodiversity of marine sediment within a national marine sanctuary. An important goal includes identifying sites with the highest potential for harboring key bacteria (e.g. Streptomyces) that contain novel biosynthetic gene clusters for natural product discovery of antibiotic and antiviral compounds. Metagenomics sequencing will quantify microbial species at sites open and closed to fishing to inform fisheries management.
The ocean ecosystem covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface and the marine environment harbors a vast unexplored resource of microbial biodiversity. This knowledge is critical to assessing the health of the ocean's vital food web. In particular, the variety and types of species that reside at the water column and sediment interface is largely unknown. There are very large number of microbes with a virtually unexplored metabolic diversity that have had 3.5 billion years of mutations to yield high genetic variation. Breakthroughs in molecular sequencing and associated technological advances have revealed a novel “unculturable world” in which the microbial community can be examined directly from environmental samples.