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IAMM: Interactions among marine microbes as they grow and die: linking experiments and genome-scale models

The oceans are teeming with microbial life, which impacts global biogeochemistry, climate and human health. Omics methods enable us to identify "who is there" and their genetic potential, but understanding how these organisms interact in nature and how they affect biogeochemical processes remains a major open challenge. A crucial component of this puzzle, at the heart of the cycling of nutrients in the biosphere, is the coupling between organisms that fix carbon using solar energy (phytoplankton) and microbes that rely on organic carbon for energy and growth (heterotrophs). The diversity of microbial species and the richness of their metabolism make the problem of predicting how each pair of species will interact impossible to address using traditional approaches. This project will tackle this challenge through a tightly integrated combination of genome scale modeling and laboratory experiments, to identify genomic traits dictating how environmentally-relevant microbes interact. Our approach, will provide a critical stepping-stone towards predicting how marine microbial systems will evolve in a changing world.


  • Eigemann, F., E. Rahav, H.-P. Grossart, D. Aharonovich, M. Voss and D. Sher (2023). Phytoplankton producer species and transformation of released compounds over time define bacterial communities following phytoplankton dissolved organic matter pulses. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 89: e00539-23, doi: 10.1128/aem.00539-23
  • Eigemann, F., E. Rahav, H.-P. Grossart, D. Aharonovich, D. Sher, A. Vogts and M. Voss (2022). Phytoplankton exudates provide full nutrition to a subset of accompanying heterotrophic bacteria via carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus allocation. Environ. Microbiol. 24: 2467-2483, doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15933
  • Roth-Rosenberg, D., D. Aharonovich, T. Luzzatto-Knaan, A. Vogts, L. Zoccarato, F. Eigemann, N. Nago, H.-P. Grossart, M. Voss and D. Sher (2020). Prochlorococcus cells rely on microbial interactions rather than on chlorotic resting stages to survive long-term nutrient starvation. mBio 11: e01846-20, doi: 10.1128/mBio.01846-20
  • Mühlenbruch, M., H.-P. Grossart, F. Eigemann and M. Voss (2018). Mini-review: Phytoplankton-derived polysaccharides in the marine environment and their interactions with heterotrophic bacteria. Environ. Microbiol. 20: 2671-2685, doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14302