Microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and protists are the unseen majority, accounting for much of the biomass on Earth. Particularly in the oceans, they exert fundamental influences to sustain life, and are a largely untapped source of novel biomolecules for biotechnological applications.

However, with increasing human populations and industrial activities, the balance and functioning of these processes can be severely affected, with potential detrimental consequences to higher life forms in both the ocean and on land.

Understanding the effects of human-induced perturbations, such as climate change and large oil spills, upon key microbial processes is imperative in order to predict how these disturbances might affect ecosystem functioning.

Using sophisticated molecular and microbiological methods, coupled with biogeochemical analytical techniques, this theme seeks to understand key microbial processes that drive terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, their interactions and relationships, and to explore novel ways to harness their biotechnological potential.