Microbial Ecosystem Services

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Award Year: 
2012
Principal Investigator: 
Gautam Dantas, Washington University
Catherine Febria, University of Maryland
Mike Beman, University of California, Merced
Francis de los Reyes III, North Carolina State University
Associated Program: 

Microbial communities directly or indirectly support a range of ecosystem services, including the provisioning of clean air and water, abundant food supply, nutrient transformations, aesthetics, and human health support. While some microbial genes, functions, and processes are well-studied, the majority remain poorly-described or undescribed. Here we ask: How well can microbial research inform decision making in an ecosystem services framework? At a time when decision- and policy-makers demand the most accurate science possible on a range of microbially mediated ecosystem services, leading edge technologies have produced volumes of data on the structure, function, and dynamics of diverse microbiomes. How can these data translate into environmental or health policy actions? Our goal is to identify or create synergies across our diverse disciplinary training and research frameworks to address the implications of socio-environmental problems involving microbial genes, processes and communities. Funded by NAKFI (Grant ES-120), we are bringing together scientific experts from engineering, human health, and ecology to a three-day discussion-based workshop. The unifying theme for the meeting is that: microbial communities play important but yet adequately-defined roles in supporting key ecosystem services, and are tightly with coupled with human society in many critical ways. For these reasons, solutions to socio-environmental problems—and generation of new ones—may involve the direct or indirect modulation of genes and communities, or some degree of engineering of microbial processes, to meet human needs on a massive scale. This workshop will inform the field of ecosystem services by identifying and prioritizing research needs generated by microbial research, and in doing so, generate synthesis publications and communication tools to better align two burgeoning fields of research.

Participants: 
Michael Beman, University of California, Merced
Gautam Dantas, Washington University
Francis de los Reyes III, North Carolina State University
Catherine Febria, University of Maryland
Margaret Palmer, SESYNC
Kevin Forsberg, Washington University
Jake Hosen, University of Maryland
Ling Wang, North Carolina State University
Jesse Wilson, University of California, Merced
Jon Kramer, SESYNC
Byron Crump, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
David Kirchman, University of Delaware
Rob Knight, University of Colorado at Boulder
Janet Jansson, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Jennifer Martiny, University of California, Irvine
Katherine (Trina) McMahon, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Alyson Santoro, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Kate Scow, University of California - Davis
Daniel Smith, Argonne National Laboratory
Stephanie Yarwood, University of Maryland
George Wells, Stanford University
Annelie Wendeberg, Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
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