Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Turning the tide

Identifying the drivers and main threats of reef microbialization by multi-meta’omics modelling

Coastal ecosystems worldwide are changing due to increased anthropogenic disturbances such as nutrient runoff. In coral reefs these phase shifts are characterized by higher abundances of copiotrophic and pathogenic bacteria, creating a feedback loop of ecosystem degradation known as reef microbialization. We previously showed that reef microbialization threatens three of five ocean basins, showing that it is a worldwide threat to marine biodiversity and ocean health. We employ an integrative model combining bottom up and top down controls on the microbial community to understand the structuring mechanisms behind reef microbialization with the aim of identifying potential intervention strategies.


Collaboration gives a unique opportunity to find the overlap between research lines while searching for possible new strategies to combat microbialization. Real blue-sky research!

    Bas Dutilh, Andreas Haas
Ariel view Caribbean area. Photo: Blue Water

Connected themes

  • Sunstainable functioning of Coastal and Shelf Seas
  • Ocean of Discovery
NIOZ project page