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Courtesy of UH Manoa and C-MORE - tricho puff fluorescenceCourtesy of Armbrust Lab - assembled metagenomic DNA sequence from a marine microbial communityCourtesy of Alexandra WordenCourtesy of Mar Nieto - DOC samplingCourtesy of Mick Follows - simulated phytoplankton biogeography from ocean modelCourtesy of Jun Meng - sampling bacteria in tropical Atlantic watersCourtesy of Jamie Becker - culturesCourtesy of Jed Furhman - epifluorescence microscopy image of marine microbesCourtesy of University of Hawaii - recovering sampling equipment
Unlocking the ocean’s mysteries

Marine Microbiology Initiative

Enabling new paradigms in microbial oceanography

The oxygen in every second breath we take is produced by microbes in our oceans—they are thought to produce about 50 percent of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. Yet, we know surprisingly little about these tiny organisms. While we are discovering answers to long-standing questions and uncovering important new questions about the roles that marine microorganisms play at the base of the ocean’s food chain, much more needs to be learned about what these organisms do and how they do it—including how they contribute to our world’s health and productivity.  

Since 2004, the Marine Microbiology Initiative (MMI) has invested in the development of conceptual breakthroughs, new technologies and modeling approaches to reveal the immense diversity of marine microorganisms, as well as a hint of the multitude of functions they serve in the oceans to influence the planet’s elemental cycles. In our initial phase, a significant effort was focused on sequencing genomes and metagenomes of marine microbes and microbial communities. Now, we are tackling other great needs that have been identified by the scientific community. We enable research to uncover the principles that govern the interactions among microbes by exploring the questions of who interacts with whom, how, when, where and the consequences, such as virus–host relationships, predation, mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, parasitism and competition. And in concert we also enable research to uncover principles that govern microbially mediated nutrient flow to understand how microbes shape the nutrient fields around them as well as how the nutrient field in turn selects for a specific community of microbes.

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Workshops and Convenings

Frequently Asked Questions

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MMI Evaluations




Recent Grants

$255,000.00 Aug 2014 Making genomic, metagenomic, transcriptomic, and metatranscriptomic data accessible via the iMicrobe Data Commons University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
$1,100,000.00 Oct 2013 Expanding the use of Environmental Sample Processors by Marine Microbial Ecologists Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
More Grants
Courtesy of Scott Gifford


Ajit Subramaniam, Ph.D., Program Director, Marine Microbiology Initiative

Ajit leads the Marine Microbiology Initiative team at the foundation.  Ajit is a biological oceanographer with expertise in biogeochemical cycles, remote sensing, bio-optics and phytoplankton phy…

Samantha Forde, Ph.D, Program Officer, Marine Microbiology Initiative

As part of foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative, Samantha works to increase our understanding of microbial ecology and evolution through a combination of strategic planning, grant develop…

Jon Kaye, Ph.D., Program Officer, Marine Microbiology Initiative

Jon supports and guides the foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative through a continuously evolving mix of strategic planning, grant idea development, portfolio management and community enga…

Fransheska Rivera Vega, Program Associate, Marine Microbiology Initiative

Fransheska provides program and administrative support for the foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative. Previously, Fransheska worked as a project manager for MQA Laboratories, where she man…