Main content area

Microbial metagenomics in the Baltic Sea: Recent advancements and prospects for environmental monitoring

Ininbergs, Karolina, Bergman, Birgitta, Larsson, John, Ekman, Martin
Ambio 2015 v.44 no.Supplement 3 pp. 439-450
DNA, RNA, biodiversity, brackish water, community structure, ecosystems, environmental monitoring, genome assembly, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, humans, metagenomics, microbial communities, microorganisms, nitrogen cycle, oceans, surface water, Baltic Sea
Metagenomics refers to the analysis of DNA from a whole community. Metagenomic sequencing of environmental DNA has greatly improved our knowledge of the identity and function of microorganisms in aquatic, terrestrial, and human biomes. Although open oceans have been the primary focus of studies on aquatic microbes, coastal and brackish ecosystems are now being surveyed. Here, we review so far published studies on microbes in the Baltic Sea, one of the world’s largest brackish water bodies, using high throughput sequencing of environmental DNA and RNA. Collectively the data illustrate that Baltic Sea microbes are unique and highly diverse, and well adapted to this brackish-water ecosystem, findings that represent a novel base-line knowledge necessary for monitoring purposes and a sustainable management. More specifically, the data relate to environmental drivers for microbial community composition and function, assessments of the microbial biodiversity, adaptations and role of microbes in the nitrogen cycle, and microbial genome assembly from metagenomic sequences. With these discoveries as background, prospects of using metagenomics for Baltic Sea environmental monitoring are discussed.