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A decade of technological advances and research on the human microbiome has re-defined our understanding of biological systems, and now offers diagnostic tools and new approaches to human health. Likewise, marine ecosystems are driven by their microbiome, the ensemble of microscopic organisms that inhabit the ...

A decade of technological advances and research on the human microbiome has re-defined our understanding of biological systems, and now offers diagnostic tools and new approaches to human health. Likewise, marine ecosystems are driven by their microbiome, the ensemble of microscopic organisms that inhabit the water column, sediments and aquatic organisms, and regulate most fluxes of energy and matter. While the human microbiome is composed principally of bacteria, the marine microbiome has a much broader ensemble of microscopic organisms with sizes spanning from viruses of a few tens of nanometres to metazoans of several centimetres. Advances in high throughput imaging and sequencing are emerging in aquatic science, providing important insights into ecosystem structure and functions, and contributing to develop new indicators of ecosystem health and potential hazards to living resources and humans.

A number of research exploration and monitoring programs such as the Tara Oceans global expedition and the Marine Biological Observing Network (MBON), and the rising popularity of environmental DNA (eDNA) already led to a wealth of data. However, the wide range of methodologies used in this early exploration phase poses a challenge to integrative studies, prompting community responses such as the Genomic Standards Consortium.

This Research Topic will foster cross-community exchange of standards and best practices. It is an opportunity for the different communities working on marine microbiomes to discuss the advantages and the limitations of their sampling and analysis methods. The collection of papers will constitute a knowledge base aimed at (1) addressing the integration of existing observations from heterogenous methods and data types, and (2) working towards cross-communities standards and best practices for future observations and experiments.

This Research Topic will publish comprehensive methodological papers that review a sufficiently large body of field or experimental work. Supporting (meta)data, such as environmental context, sampling materials, sample treatments, extraction and imaging yields, must be provided and should preferably be uploaded to an online sample registry such as BioSamples. Protocols and analytical methods should preferably be uploaded to an online repository such as Protocols.io.

We welcome contributions from communities working in different environments:
· focus on marine systems, but also interested in estuarine and freshwater systems
· coastal, open ocean and deep-sea regions
· benthic, pelagic and aerosol environments

We strongly encourage contributions from communities involved in:
· networks of local observatories and long-term monitoring programs
· regional & basin-scale surveys, and global expeditions
· biodiscovery linked to economic sectors such as pharmaceutics and bioengineering
· environmental and health assessments linked to economic sectors such as aquaculture, fisheries, seabed mining, wind-farms, and oil and gas

Photo Credits: Fondation Tara Océan©

Keywords: microbiome, methods, observation, biodiscovery, ecosystems


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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