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Microbial diversity and ecosystem functions: concepts, open questions and recommendations for integration of microbes into general ecological frameworks

Parent project: Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning - EU Network of Excellence, more
Period: September 2005 till December 2008
Status: Completed

Institutes (3)  Top 
  • Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Warnemünde (IOW), more, partner
  • Spanish Council for Scientific Research; Institute of Marine Sciences; Departament de Recursos Marins Renovables (CMIMA-CSIC), more, partner
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV), more, partner

1. Evaluate the potential and limitations of microbial diversity data for studies on biodiversity and ecosystem functions
2. Analyse existing data sets on microbial diversity; extract general patterns and relations to system properties and ecosystem functions
3. Develop recommendations and protocols for the application of molecular microbial techniques appropriate to address specific questions in ecosystem studies at different levels of resolution
4. Develop a conceptual framework for the integration of microorganisms in theoretical and experimental studies focusing on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functions

Description of work
Task 1: Comparative evaluation of currently used approaches, concepts, definitions in micro- and macroecological research
Task 2: Theoretical analysis of currently used molecular techniques to assess microbial diversity with respect to information output, level of resolution and applicability in experimental ecological research
Task 3: Identify current microbial diversity databases and examine their coverage of different types of marine systems (regions, habitats) and organism groups
Task 4: Perform a meta-analysis of existing data sets on marine microbial diversity; extract general patterns and relations to ecosystem properties
Task 5: Comparison and calibration of commonly used molecular techniques to assess different measures of
microbial diversity (DNA/RNA fingerprinting and hybridization techniques)
Task 6: Develop protocols and standards to assess microbial diversity at different scales and levels of resolution in ecological studies
Task 7: Develop protocols and experimental designs to test the relationship between microbial diversity and specific ecosystem functions
Task 8: Evaluate the possibility for sharing infrastructure, exchanging expertise, and complementary approaches to examine microbial diversity at different Marbef institutes

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