Microbial activities and interactions in the North Sea
Nature doesn't function without the microbes as they are essential for (re)cycling of energy and major elements in the sea. Free floating and attached to particles (natural but also microplastics) and man-made structures (e.g. oil rigs and offshore wind farms), the marine unicellular microorganisms display a large species diversity and variety in biomolecules.
For a better prediction how anthropogenic use of the North Sea affects element cycling and ecosystem functioning, we must understand the underlying abiotic and biotic (predation, viral infection) controls of microbial population dynamics, biodiversity, and successful attachment (biofilm succession) on soft-bottom and hard substrates. High-throughput DNA sequencing and real-time in situ imaging tools help us to elucidate the microbial impact and inform best practices for future use of the North Sea.