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Marine Microbiology Initiative

Symposium: Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry of Oxygen-Deficient Marine Waters

Four-day symposium on the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of low-oxygen zones 

Naturally occurring and human-induced low-oxygen conditions are becoming increasingly common in coastal and offshore areas around the world. These regions, rich in nutrients via ocean upwelling or artificially due to fertilizer overuse on land, are stimulating more intense and longer algal blooms. Marine bacteria use up oxygen when decomposing these blooms deep in the ocean, causing significant impacts on marine ecosystems.

In March 2013, more than 50 leading international researchers—ranging from microbial ecologists to microbial biogeochemists, physical oceanographers, marine chemists, computational modelers, and macrofauna ecologists—gathered in Santa Cruz, Chile to discuss these systems and their global implications. Supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Agouron Institute, the four-day symposium allowed participants to:

  1. Compare and contrast the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of different low-oxygen systems.
  2. Consider global assessments and/or predictions based on model outputs on, for example, the impact of oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) expansion.
  3. Identify opportunities for collaboration, including research proposals and cross-training opportunities, among OMZ research teams.
  4. Brainstorm about the initial design of a community field experiment.
  5. Develop mechanisms to communicate about, standardize, and/or compare field and experimental protocols.

The symposium agenda and proceedings are available for download. Many thanks to the scientists who contributed. Please contact Jon Kaye with any questions.

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