European Marine Research Network ( Euromarine ) - Marine Eco-Systems Biology – Bridging environmental and ecological data with integrated ‘omics to understand the predict future seagrass ecosystems under global/climate change

Project: Research

Project Details


Seagrasses – marine angiosperms - comprise of 72 species and globally occurring are globally declining at annual rates of 7%[1,2]. This is mainly caused by anthropogenic relates factors leading to physical disturbances (e.g., coastal engineering, trawling, dredging, shoreline construction), abiotic stressors (e.g., eutrophication, climate change, waste water and hypoxia), and direct alteration of community structure (e.g., aquaculture, invasive species and overexploitation)[3].

The effects of environmental pressure on seagrasses on molecular level is largely unknown, but crucial to understand the underlying mechanisms of declining seagrass populations world wide. Until now several studies applied single ‘omics technologies to understand the relation of environmental stress on seagrasses [4] to assess the metabolome or the transcriptome or the proteome or the genome respectively. However one ‘ome alone does not show the whole story and only the integration of metabolite, enzyme, transcript and genome information will provide us a better understanding of the factors that determine the health of present and future seagrass ecosystems [5]. The integration of this multi ‘omics approach with biogeochemical and population ecological data indeed will boost our understanding of how and when seagrasses will be affected by environmental stress.

The proposed foresight workshop will bring together key players of seagrass ecology, carefully selected by their background in the different research disciplines. We invited one expert in plant eco-systems biology “Wolfram Weckwerth” – he is pioneering in the field of plant eco-systems biology and will ignite the discussion about how to develop the marine eco-systems biological frame work in the context of seagrass ecology. The workshop will focus on interdisciplinary work and the development of a marine ecosystems biological frame work ranging from species to community to population levels. The final deliverable of the workshop is a position paper synthesizing the current knowledge and methods, and providing a road map of the methods, approaches and interdisciplinary demands needed to realize seagrass eco-systems biology. Finally we will present a marine eco-systems biological tool-box – presenting guidelines for integrated multi’omics research ranging from aquaria to mesocosm to field - that will be used by all scientist working in this field. Both the position paper (open access) and the eco-systems tool-box (open access) will be a foundation to change the way we conduct seagrass research today to a more holistic approach. We expect impact to the whole seagrass research community and most likely also to costal and estuaries research in general.

Layman's description

Marine eco-systems biology is a new and emerging approach to bridge the ‘omics technologies with environmental and ecological data (e.g. biogeochemistry, species interaction, physical disturbance, eutrophication). The workshop will identify the best practice and a tool-box of how to tackle this challenging approach both needed to foster new services relevant to the marine scientific community. The position paper will present the associated methodologies and concepts. The outcomes will leverage applications for larger joint H2020 proposals, national and regional funding programmes.
Effective start/end date10/02/201631/12/2018