Life’s Roots & Rates | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Life’s Roots & Rates

Bacteria, Archaea, protists and protozoans play a key role in marine ecosystems. The presence and diversity of microscopic life and interactions between these organisms define the distribution and flow of essential elements (energy, carbon, etc.) in the ocean. These organisms are also among the oldest on Earth.

The species richness and genetic diversity within marine microbial communities result in an unmatched functional resilience that allows the microbial food web to adapt to a constantly changing environment. There is a need for research into the (changing) functioning of microbial systems to understand microbial ecosystem functions and predict the influence of human activities. VLIZ will pursue this research by developing smart measuring systems. The “viral shunt”, i.e. the degradation of microbes to dissolved organic matter through viral infections, presumably plays a critical role in nutrient- and carbon fluxes and the maintenance of microbial diversity. Through research, we want to increase the limited knowledge on the occurrence and role of viruses in our coastal waters. Marine microorganisms may also have an influence on human health. Within this topic, we study the potential positive health effects of immunostimulation after inhalation of marine bacteria, as well as the detection of harmful algae and the development of harmful algal blooms.

People working on this topic