BPS will be hosting a session at the FEMS conference in Hamburg, Germany, 2021Diversity and ecology of aquatic phototrophic biofilms revealed interdisciplinary approaches and modern ‘omics techniques
Phototrophic biofilms are an assemblage of microorganisms that are attached to a surface producing extracellular polymers that facilitate attachment and matrix formation in all illuminated environments and climate zones. Modern molecular techniques have revealed a surprisingly rich diversity of bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and other microbial eukaryotes that inhabit these biofilms revealing complex and diverse interactions between taxa. Phototrophic biofilms can be structured as single layer of cells, microbial mats with steep physicochemical gradients or complex three-dimensional stromatolites that resemble some of the first life to emerge on Earth. The assembly of these unique communities can be driven both photosynthetic prokaryotes (cyanobacteria and purple bacteria) or eukaryotic microalgae (primarily diatoms and green algae). Phototrophic biofilms are of global importance in interdisciplinary scientific fields. They had a role in past global oxidation events and biogeochemical cycling, they dominate in extreme environments (such as geothermal springs and polar regions), they are important for sediment stabilization in intertidal mud flats and protect from coastal erosion, they play a role in the biodeterioration of historic buildings and in freshwaters benthic cyanobacteria in biofilms may produce toxins which have implications for water quality and human health.
Even though there is a rich history of physiological studies and assessments of the microbial diversity in phototrophic biofilms using morphological and sequencing based approaches, -omics and multidisciplinary approaches are scarce. Therefore, comparative studies using high-throughput ‘omics’ techniques may allow a better resolution of ecological processes driving community assembly, microbe interactions and functional response to the environment.
The session invites contribution of studies on any phototrophic biofilms comprised by bacteria, archaea, viruses, microalgae and microbial eukaryotes from any environment, i.e. freshwater, marine, terrestrial, extreme and built environments.
The aim of this session is to go beyond descriptive and physiology limited studies and to encourage broad, comparative and process-orientated research. This may include studies on genomic bases of adaptation, single-cell genomics, environmental metagenomics and transcriptomic response to environmental stress, genomic regulations for photophysiology microbe and cross kingdom interactions such as symbiosis, mutualism, disease and predation as well as ecological and geographic drivers of diversity patterns across environmental gradients. We also welcome contributions on applied research on phototrophic biofilms such as bio deterioration in the built environment and water management of toxin production.