The microbiology laboratory research activities are focused on fundamental research in the field of microbial ecology of marine microorganisms. Research is also being carried out on allohtonous microorganisms that come from different sources into the marine environment and which may potentially be hazardous to human health.
The field of ecology of marine microorganisms includes research of microbial community structure (composition, abundances, biomass, production and activity), and the role of microbial food web in matter and energy flow through the pelagic ecosystem. As a part of the allochthonous microorganisms research scientific studies have been carried out regarding the presence and survival of fecal contamination indicators in seawater and their concentration in shellfish.
In the Laboratory of microbiology the research has been carried out in the field of microbial ecology of marine microorganisms as well as studies of allohtonous microorganisms that come from different sources into the marine environment.
The main directions of microbial ecology research include:
- characterization of microbial community structure through monitoring of the abundance, biomass and activity of all components of the microbial microbial food web (viruses, autotrophic and heterotrophic prokaryotes- bacteria and cyanobacteria, as well as autotrophic and heterotrophic eukaryotes-pikoeukariotes and nanoflagellates)
- defining the trophic significance of a microbial community in the matter and energy flow in different marine ecosystems
- identification of microbial response to different environmental conditions and / or changes in ecological conditions on the spatial and temporal scale
The study of microbial communities, their composition (abundance, biomass and activities), as well as the relationships within members of microbial community is inevitable for the understanding of several important processes:
- Biological productivity of marine ecosystems and carbon flow between trophic levels, which is of paramount importance for the maintenance of fish stocks;
- The fate of biogenic carbon and its sequestration in the marine environment that depends crucially on the size structure of microbial communities and the dominant type of nutrition networks,
- Recognition of microbial response to different environmental conditions as an important descriptor of natural and anthropogenic changes in the marine environment.
As a part of the allochthonous microorganisms research, scientific research has been carried out regarding the presence and survival of fecal contamination in seawater and their concentration in shellfish. The results of these studies are essential for assessing the quality of water and marine organisms and potential risks to human health. Also, the results of these studies have direct application in assessing the impact of submarine runoff on the environment, and in better planning of the bivalve breeding technology.
The laboratory is currently carrying out research on new specific bacterial groups, diversity of bacterial communities using molecular methods as well as on the response of the microbial food web to global warming.