On May 13th, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy introduced the National Microbiome Initiative, an effort to support multi-agency research to help sample and better understand communities of microorganisms that are critical to both human health and the world’s ecosystems. As the nation’s premier ocean science agency, NOAA is leading interdisciplinary research to improve observation and assessment of marine microbiomes. To support this national initiative, NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) received nearly $2 million in funding this year to conduct a number of projects that integrate genetic sampling techniques and technologies to help advance the understanding of the ocean’s microbiomes.
A new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology highlights how emerging, devastating outbreaks of Vibrio infection in Latin America might be linked to El Niño, a climate pattern that periodically causes surface temperatures to warm throughout the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A researcher with the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute of Marine & Atmospheric Studies at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Lab was part of an international research team that used microbiological, genomic, and bioinformatic tools to demonstrate how El Niño provides a mechanism for the transport of disease from Asia into the Americas.
On September 29th, researchers from AOML’s Environmental Microbiology Lab along with scientists from Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center collected water samples along Miami Beach during a king tide event, the highest astronomical tide of the year. Sample sites were located adjacent to pumps installed by the City of Miami Beach to actively pump super-tidal floodwaters out of the streets and back into Biscayne Bay. AOML’s team continuously monitored and collected water samples over a 5-hour period at locations in Maurice Gibb Memorial Park, along 14th Street, and at 27th Street and Indian Creek Drive. During sampling, physical water properties such as temperature, salinity, pH, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen content were also measured.
Researchers with AOML’s Environmental Microbiology Lab joined a global effort to sample the smallest members of the ocean ecosystem on June 21 during International Ocean Sampling Day. Organized and led by the European Union’s MicroB3 organization and the Ocean Sampling Day Consortium, Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) is a simultaneous sampling campaign of the world’s oceans and coastal waters. These cumulative samples, related in time, space and environmental parameters, contribute to determine a baseline of global marine biodiversity and functions on the molecular level.
On October 9th, researchers from AOML’s Environmental Microbiology Lab monitored and collected water samples in Maurice Gibb Memorial Park during the King Tide, the highest astronomical tide of the year.
The colloquial term ‘king tides’, referring to the highest astronomical tides of the year, is now part of most Miami Beach residents and city managers’ vocabulary. Exacerbated by rising seas, these seasonal tides can add up to 12 inches of water to the average high tide, threatening the urbanized landscape of Miami Beach. During these events, AOML’s Microbiology Team is on the scene to investigate these tidal waters as they rise and recede. The microbiologists are part of a research consortium for sea level rise and climate change, led by Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center. The research effort focuses on collecting samples and monitoring water quality at locations along the Biscayne Bay watershed where the City of Miami Beach has installed pumps to actively push these super-tidal floodwaters back into the bay.