Models of Marine Microbial Biogeography and Biogeochemistry
Investigators: Mick Follows and Stephanie Dutkiewicz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Microbial communities in the sea mediate the global cycles of elements including climatically significant carbon, sulfur and nitrogen. Photosynthetic microbes in the surface ocean fix carbon and other elements into organic molecules, fueling food webs that sustain fisheries and most other life in the ocean. Sinking and subducted organic matter is remineralized and respired in the dark, sub-surface ocean maintaining a store of carbon about three times the size of the atmospheric inventory of CO2. The communities of microbes that sustain these global-scale cycles are functionally and genetically extremely diverse, non-uniformly distributed and sparsely sampled. Their biogeography reflects selection according to the relative fitness of myriad combinations of traits that govern interactions with the environment and other organisms. Trait-based theory and simulations provide tools with which to interpret biogeography and microbial mediation of biogeochemical cycles. Several outstanding challenges remain: observations to constrain the biogeography of marine microbes are still sparse and based on eclectic sampling methods, theories of the organization of the system have not been quantitatively tested, and the models used to simulate the system still lack sufficiently mechanistic biological foundations that will enable meaningful, dynamic simulations and state estimation.
Our goals are to integrate key new data sets in real time as they are collected at sea to facilitate direct tests of theoretical predictions; to synthesize an atlas of marine microbial biogeography suitable for testing some specific ecological theories and quantifying the skill of numerical simulations; to develop new trait-based models and simulations of regional and global microbial communities bringing to bear the power of metabolic constraints and knowledge of macro-molecular composition; to analyze these data and models using statistical tools to interpolate and extrapolate the sparse data sets, formally quantify the skill of numerical simulations; and employ data assimilation technologies to identify and optimize compatible model frameworks. Together, the results of these efforts will advance new theoretical approaches and lead to improved global ocean-scale predictions and regional state-estimates, constrained by observed biogeography. They will provide a quantification of the associated biogeochemical fluxes.
CBIOMES Collaborators in the MIT Group
News from the MIT Group
"Attribution of space-time variability in global-ocean dissolved inorganic carbon using the ECCO-Darwin data‐assimilative global ocean biogeochemistry model." Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
“Dilution-driven heterogeneity enhances plankton productivity in Lagrangian ecosystems” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
Simona Meiler, Gregory L. Britten, Stephanie Dutkiewicz, Mary Rose Gradoville, Pia H. Moisander, Oliver Jahn, Michael J. Follows (2022), Constraining uncertainties of diazotroph biogeography from nifH gene abundance, Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.12036 Get the PDF [Requires...
Vinitha Ebenezer, Yingyu Hu, Olga Carnicer, Andrew J. Irwin, Michael J. Follows, Zoe V. Finkel (2022), Elemental and macromolecular composition of the marine Chloropicophyceae, a major group of oceanic photosynthetic picoeukaryotes, Limnology and Oceanography, doi:...
“The closure problem revisited: The case for a hyperbolic zooplankton mortality” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
Scientists extend a concept from network theory to develop a new diagnostic for fluid flows useful in understanding the structuring of marine phytoplankton distributions. (more…)
Recordings and microtalks from the Follows Group. Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
Christopher P. Kempes, Michael J. Follows, Hillary Smith, Heather Graham, Christopher H. House, Simon A. Levin (2021), Generalized Stoichiometry and Biogeochemistry for Astrobiological Applications, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, doi: 10.1007/s11538-021-00877-5 Get the PDF [Requires login]
“When should we trust Niche model predictions under Climate Change???” (A case study using the Flombaum model for Prochlorococcus populations.) Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES...
“Simulating Prochlorococcus growth, metabolism and physiology across a meridional transect of the North and South Atlantic Oceans” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
Postdoc John Casey continues to work closely with MIT-CBIOMES Group PI Mick Follows on research combining quantitative proteomics, flux balance analysis, and molecular modeling of membrane transports to develop a...
“Lagrangian Betweenness and Bottlenecks of the Ocean Circulation” Please note access to this page is restricted to CBIOMES associates. (more…)
Inomura, K. A-W. Omta, D. Talmy, J. Bragg, C. Deutsch, and M.J. Follows (2020), A Mechanistic Model of Macromolecular Allocation, Elemental Stoichiometry, and Growth Rate in Phytoplankton, Frontiers in Microbiology, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00086 Get the PDF [Requires login]
Technique developed by MIT-CBIOMES investigators could aid in tracking the ocean’s health and productivity. (more…)