About this Research Topic
Deciphering eco-physiological traits of individual microbes and their role in metabolic networks is a pre-condition to understand ecosystem functioning and its capacity to cope with environmental changes. Environmental complexity and the still-low number of species that may be cultured in the laboratory makes it difficult to ascertain the in situ function and interactions of relevant microorganisms, particularly in highly complex ecosystems like soils, rhizosphere, marine sediments or the deep biosphere. As such, most knowledge gathered by environmental microbiologists has focused on microorganisms as phylogenetic groups at different taxonomic levels. This poses a challenge for precise function assignment, since even apparently homogeneous clonal populations exhibit significant physiological heterogeneity. In the past decade, the introduction of nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS) and other single cell imaging technologies have allowed significant advances in the microbial ecology of individual environmental populations. NanoSIMS imaging combined with stable isotope-labelling experiments offers a distinctive approach to resolve the function of individual cells in environments ranging from low-complexity symbiotic systems to the deep biosphere, and may even be used to untangle metabolic networks of microbial consortia or interactions with the abiotic environment.
This Research Topic aims to attract contributions that use nanoSIMS-based chemical imaging to address the function of microorganisms, metabolic interactions between microorganisms or of microorganisms with higher organisms (e.g. sponges, corals, phytoplankton or plants) in terrestrial, marine and synthetic environments. We also invite contributions that seek to correlate the metabolism or chemistry of single cells with morphological, structural and phylogenetic information gained via nanoSIMS imaging complemented by other imaging techniques such as SEM, TEM, AFM, fluorescence microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron imaging.
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.