About this Research Topic
Microbes are key players in ocean ecology. While the genetic and ecophysiological capacities of individual microbial taxa are important drivers, ecologists increasingly appreciate that the activities of cells and communities occur in complex interaction networks with their microbial and macrobial neighbors. Socio-ecological interactions occur over wide spatial scales, ranging from the single-cell micrometer level over localized microhabitats and complex (meta-)communities to large-scale events such as phytoplankton blooms. Deciphering the interplay of cooperative, competitive, and neutral dynamics in these systems is essential to understanding the regulators of community function, adaptation and evolution from micro to macro oceanic scales.
In addition, the social – and asocial – network of microbes encompasses pathogenic, antagonistic, mutualistic and synergistic relationships with other microbes, viruses and eukaryotes. Novel techniques afford exciting possibilities and unprecedented detail in microbial socio-ecology, for instance concerning the chemical language of microbes, microbial roles in eukaryotic behavior, disease and holobiont functioning, as well as the microbial conversion of compounds that can be “friends or foes” to co-occurring organisms. In addtion, the role of microbes as prey is an equally important socio-ecological factor, covering aspects such as virus-host dynamics, adaptive CRISPR immunity, and strategies to counteract grazing pressure.
The present Research Topic focuses on the socio-ecological interactions of microbes in small and larger ecological contexts. Focal topics include cellular signaling and communication on the micrometer scale, the effect of microbial interactions on microhabitat structuring, the function of secreted secondary metabolites in bacterial antagonism and microbe-host interactions, the conversion and cross-feeding of nutrients, microbial physiology and gene regulation in response to co-occurring organisms, biofilm dynamics, as well as microbial metabolic exchange in diverse communities. Special emphasis is placed on how socio-ecological dynamics are affected by climate change: how delicate microbe-host relationships respond to ocean acidification and warming, and how changing oceans affect local and global functional diversity by the increasing spread of invasive species.
The Research Topic welcomes both laboratory and environmental studies, particularly those with a cross-disciplinary approach combining molecular, physiological, chemical and oceanographic techniques. Our vision is to establish a collection of articles presenting a cutting-edge, integrative and holistic perspective on socio-ecological interactions between microbes and their biotic environment. This collection will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the manifold relationships that influence local and global ecological processes in the wake of changing oceans.
Keywords: Interaction networks, chemical cross-talk, holobionts, metabolite exchange, climate change
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