Project TP3: Microbial diversity, metagenomics and ecosystem monitoring at the long term ecological research station Helgoland

Responsible: Rudolf Amann and Bernhard Fuchs, MPI, and Gunnar Gerdts, AWI


This part of the project examines the diversity and function of marine bacterioplankton in a world of global climate change. By coupling the diversity to the metabolic potential the adaptation of marine bacteria to a changing environment will be explored.


Double FISH staining


Double FISH staining: DAPI in blue – all  stained cells, FISH in green – all bacteria


First, a weekly sampling strategy will serve as a sample reservoir to monitor changes in diversity of the microbial community by fingerprinting and 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. The daily physical and chemical parameters provided by the “Biologische Anstalt Helgoland” BAH will set the stage upon the microbiological processes will be studied. The comparison of microbial diversity and composition with counts of the zooplankton and phytoplankton possible interactions of the different trophic levels within the microbial food chains will give insights into the complexity but also functionality of the biological processes present. At well defined time points several hundred liters of seawater samples will be fractionated by filtration into different cut-off sizes to specifically target large phytoplankton cells, picoplankton cells, but also ultra small virioplankton particles. Our part of the project will focus on the construction of metagenome libaries from the picoplankton fraction to explore the metabolic potential of the microbial community at well characterized time points. The results will be compared to the outcome of the other project partners from metaproteomic s and metatranscriptomics. 


Bacterial cells


Bacterial cells on the macroalga Ulva spec. leaf surface


The multivariate dataset gained in this part of the project comprising physical and chemical parameters, zoo- and phytoplankton and microbial diversity and composition serves as the backbone for interpreting the data of the entire project. 

A valuable output will be the well characterized biomass archive which allows e.g. future follow up analyses and will provide sufficient material for the other project partners involved like meta-proteomics and meta-transcriptomics.

Several strains isolated from the “Helgoland Reede” station are available, which could serve as model organisms for developing and testing new and refined methods for analyzing the transcriptome and proteome of e.g. Gramella forsetii KT0803 and Congregibacter litoralis KT71.