Merging complex “-omic” data and computational ecosystem models
Biotechnological advances and the decreasing cost of sequencing have caused a major shift in microbial oceanography to include “-omics” (i.e. genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics of individual organisms, as well as metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metaproteomics of mixed communities). These data provide information about the ways organisms interact with and change their environment. Though potentially powerful, these data are rarely used to parameterize models of marine biogeochemical cycles and food web interactions.
To address this gap, the Marine Microbiology Initiative at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation hosted a workshop in March 2013 that brought together biogeochemical modelers, marine microbial ecologists, theoreticians, and bioinformaticists who are actively wrestling with the challenges of using “-omic” data in computational ecosystem and biogeochemical models. Hands-on interactions encouraged open discussions about modeling approaches and how mathematical models can be used to interpret these kinds of data and improve understanding of elemental cycling from very small to global scales.
The workshop was an initial step in an ongoing dialogue among scientists interested in exploiting “-omic data” for advancing our understanding of marine microbial ecology and evolution. Activities stemming from the workshop include a Special Session at Ocean Sciences 2014 entitled “Linking Molecular ‘Omics’ Measurements to Develop Conceptual and Computational Models of Ocean Microbial Ecology, Diversity and Biogeochemistry” and other collaborative efforts.
Many thanks to the scientists who participated in the workshop. The workshop agenda is available for download. Please contact Samantha Forde with any questions.