The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative is investing $19 million over the next three years to support 42 teams of scientists, including three teams with MBL researchers, to collaboratively develop tools and methods to advance model systems in aquatic symbiosis. The Initiative’s funding aims to equip the scientific community with infrastructure such as new genetic tools, cultivation methods, and nanoscale microscopy to improve experimental capabilities in aquatic symbiosis research over the coming decade. Read more about the initiative ...

The MBL scientists funded in this grant include:

Project title: Underground Allies: Dynamic Interactions Among Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and Sulfur-Cycling Microbes in the Rhizosphere
Principal Investigator: Zoe Cardon, MBL
Co-Investigators: Anne Giblin, Elena L. Peredo, Blair Paul, and Emil Ruff, MBL

Summary: Spartina alterniflora  is a native cordgrass dominating intertidal salt marsh platforms along thousands of miles of the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. The interaction among Spartina roots, sulfate reducing bacteria, and sulfur oxidizing bacteria is at the core of salt marsh health. We aim to establish a model system for understanding mechanisms underlying this symbiosis using plants and microbes isolated from the Plum Island Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research site north of Boston. The Spartina root system and its associated sulfur-cycling microbes control an ecosystem-scale production, recycling and detoxification system, maintaining vast expanses of clonal Spartina that are crucibles for marine coastal life, and creating peat platforms critical for salt marsh persistence in the face of rising sea levels.

Principal Investigator Zoe Cardon (top row, center) and team working over Zoom.

Project title: Symbiosis Model Systems: Exploiting Host-Symbiont Attachment to Develop Cell-Capture Libraries that Enable Microbial Co-Cultivation
Principal Investigator: Blair Paul, MBL
Co-Investigators: Jillian F. Banfield, UC Berkeley; Partho Ghosh, UC San Diego; David L. Valentine, UC Santa Barbara

Project title: Developing Sponges as a Model System for Aquatic Animal-Microbe Symbiosis
Principal Investigator: Sandie Degnan, University of Queensland
Co-Investigators: Ute Hentschel Humeida, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel; Torsten Thomas, University of New South Wales; Laura Steindler, University of Haifa; Jasper M de Goeij, University of Amsterdam; Nipam Patel, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Chicago

Top photo: Zoe Cardon in Little Sippewissett Marsh, Falmouth, pulling microbial traps out of marsh sediment.