CeBiTec Distinguished Lecture: 2009-06-15
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Amann
Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie, Bremen

2009-06-15, 17:15

Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung – ZiF, Plenary Hall

Genome-Enabled Earth System Studies


Central steps of the biogeochemical cycling of elements such as C, O, N, and S are catalyzed by marine microorganisms. Molecular fingerprints such as 16S rRNA sequences are indicating a high microbial diversity, including the existence of many not yet cultivated marine bacteria and archaea. By fluorescence in situ hybridization with rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes we can quantify the spatio-temporal distributions of specific microbial species. Thereby, marine “key species” have been identified. For some of them, e.g. for heterotrophic polymer-degrading bacteria, representative pure cultures have recently become available which can now be studied by whole genome analysis. One focus of the Max Plank Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen are coastal bacteria involved in C cycling like Gramella forsetii(Phylum Bacteroidetes), and Congregibacter litoralis (NOR5/OM60 clade of Gammaproteobacteria). The genome of G. forsetii shows ample adaptations for the degradation of polymeric materials, whereas C. litoralis turned out to be the first gammaproteobacterial aerobic anoxygenic photoheterotroph (AAnP).
The term metagenomics refers to the sum of genomes in a particular environmental sample. Metagenome projects allow unprecedented insights into the genetic potential of microbes for which mass cultivation of pure strains is not yet possible. By the combination of quantitative diversity studies and (meta)genome-enabled functional insights scientist can now proceed to a new level of understanding of the role of marine microbes in the Earth system.

Host: Prof. Dr. Alfred Pühler