Research Team

Silvia G. Acinas

ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain

TANIT – TAra OceaNs Prokaryotic FuncTioning and Diversity Department of Marine Biology and Oceanography, Institute of Marine Science (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain

TANIT represents a consortium of scientists within Tara Oceans that will inspect the functioning ecology and biodiversity of bacteria in the oceans. TANIT is performing a 2.5 years worldwide study of the bacterial biogeography of the surface layers and DCM samples. Bacterial assemblages will be correlated with physico- chemical environmental data and the relationship with other fractions of the marine plankton such as zooplankton, algae and viruses will be explored. Bacteria are a relevant component of the ocean’s food networks; they are responsible for 30% of the primary biomass production and 95% of the respiration of the ocean accounting with 1029 cells in the global ocean.

Bacterial biodiversity and ecological functioning are still poorly known but this knowledge is essential to understand carbon flow and shifts in marine bacterial communities patterns in response to environmental changes. Our main current research topics are:

(i) establish alternative approaches based on new sequencing technologies to explore microbial diversity at a global scale, (ii) testing some ecological models (neutral vs. niche models) to explore the Biogeography of bacteria and explaining the microbial diversity patterns observed in marine communities (iii) a global quantitative and qualitative survey of prokaryotic through high-throughput metagenomics/metatranscriptomics and other molecular ecological approaches to analyse dominant bacterial assemblages and metabolism associated to distinct oceanographic frameworks and (iv) analyses of uncultured ecological relevant bacterial genomes by single cells genome sequencing to develop new bacterial species concept in the ocean.

New prokaryotic species will be discovered and biogeography of bacterial species will be for the first time comprehensively explored in a global oceanographic context.

Relevant publications

  1. Silvia G. Acinas, Luisa A. Marcelino, Vanja Klepac-Ceraj and Martin F. Polz. 2004. Divergence and Redundancy of 16S rRNA Sequences in Genomes with Multiple rrn Operons. Journal of Bacteriology. 186:2629-2635.

  2. Silvia G. Acinas, Vanja Klepac-Ceraj, Dana E. Hunt, Chanathip Pharino, Ivica Ceraj, Daniel L. Distel and Martin F. Polz. 2004. Fine Scale Phylogenetic Architecture of a Complex Bacterial Community. Nature. 430:551-554.

  3. Silvia G, Acinas, Thomas Haverkamp, Jef Huisman and Lucas S. Stal. 2009. Phenotypic and genetic diversification of Pseudanabaena spp (Cyanobacteria). ISME J. 3:31-46.

  4. Karsenti, E, Acinas SG, Bork P, Bowler C, De Vargas C et al. 2011. A holistic approach to marine eco-systems biology. PLoS Biology. 9(10): e1001177.doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001177.

  5. Beatriz Fernández-Gómez, Antonio Fernàndez-Guerra, Emilio O. Casamayor, José M. González, Carlos Pedrós-Alió and Silvia G. Acinas*. 2012. Patterns and Architecture of genomic Islands in Marine Bacteria. BMC Genomics.

The scientific activities of the Tara Oceans expedition, led by EMBL senior scientist Eric Karsenti, present an unprecedented effort that resulted in 35,000 samples containing millions of small organism collected in more than 210 ocean stations, chosen for their climatic significance or biodiversity.