Development of an autonomous multisampler system

for the monitoring of biogeochemical processes


In brief

The project has a duration of 3 years (4/2014 - 3/2017), a budget of 500.000 €, and is funded by the EU and the national research councols of Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. The project is coordinated by PD Dr. Matthias Labrenz (IOW).

AFISmon is funded by the Bonus programme through the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) under implementation agreement n R&I/I3/2012/BONUS made with BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme.

Project summary

Microorganisms are the driving catalysts of biogeochemical cycles sustaining life in the ocean. Thus, the determination of their metabolic processes is fundamental for the understanding of marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, these are practically absent from current monitoring programs because of the considerable analysis complexity. Nowadays, advanced molecular techniques overcome former challenges. One of the promising approaches is the analysis of the transcripts in natural microbial assemblages (metatranscriptomes). Unfortunately, transcripts can degrade in less than 30 sec. Their unbiased detection in nature, especially from hypoxic or deep water habitats, is a challenge because they are subject to considerable modification simply due to sampling procedures. We developed already an adequate sampling technique for use at the CTD rosette. However, for monitoring of temporal and spatial variations autonomous event and/or time triggered in situ fixation instruments are essential on ocean observatories. Based on our system these independent instruments will be developed and tested in hypoxic waters. The procedure will be optimized concerning the sampling volume, fixative, and storage time under varying conditions, but also concerning bioinformatics to get reproducible data. Project outcome will be an AFISmon prototype applicable for the monitoring of biogeochemical processes.

Recent achievements

Since the start of the BONUS-AFISmon project, we have conducted multiple experiments to determine optimal sample volumes and investigate the efficiency of different fixatives for the long-term preservation of metatranscriptomes. The Baltic Sea Science Conference (June 2015), and the annual meeting of the German association for microbiology (March 2016) were perfect opportunities (among others) to present our newest results to the scientific community at large and to get some exciting and productive feedback on potential uses for the AFISsys!

Principal investigator: