About this Research Topic
Aquatic ecosystems are currently experiencing unprecedented levels of impact from human activities including over-exploitation of resources, habitat destruction, pollution and the influence of climate change. The impacts of these activities on the microbial ecology of aquatic environments are only now beginning to be defined. One of the many implications of environmental degradation and climate change is the geographical expansion of disease- causing microbes such as those from the Vibrio genus. Elevating sea surface temperatures correlate with increasing Vibrio numbers and disease in marine animals (e.g. corals) and humans. Contamination of aquatic environments with heavy metals and other pollutants eaffects microbial ecology with downstream effects on biogeochemical cycles and nutrient turnover. Also of importance is the pollution of aquatic environments with antibiotics, resistance genes and the mobile genetic elements that house resistance genes from human sewage waste. Such contaminated environments act as a source of resistance genes long after an antibiotic has ceased being used in the community. Furthermore, environments contaminated with mobile elements that are adapted to human commensals and pathogens function to capture new genetic material for potential reintroduction back into clinically important environments. This research topic welcomes submissions in areas relating to the affect(s) of human activity on microbial ecology and function in aquatic environments. Submissions on how anthropogenic activity is affecting processes such as nutrient cycling, microbial disease and lateral gene transfer processes are encouraged.