Impacts & Future

Impacts. With its >200 million well annotated protistan rDNA sequences from benthic and pelagic coastal EU marine waters, the online BioMarKs database constitutes the largest world community resource on marine unicellular eukaryotic biodiversity, providing a reference platform for current and future projects dealing with this important biodiversity compartment, and elevating the European community to the forefront of marine eukaryote microbial ecology.  In addition to the genetic, morphological, and contextual data, the BioMarKs project is providing a suite of state-of-the-art sampling, molecular, and bioinformatics protocols for optimal assessment of microbial eukaryotic biodiversity.

Future. Over the course of the project, most partners have used BioMarKs concepts and protocols toward other fundamental or more applied research projects. For instance, the basic BioMarKs morpho-molecular sampling strategy was slightly modified and improved, and used for the global oceans sampling of the entire plankton communities realized during the Tara-Oceans expeditions (2009 to 2013). BioMarKs methods have also inspired eukaryotic microbial sampling of the Malaspina expedition (2010) and the OSD - Ocean Sampling Day -, the simultaneous and standardized sampling campaign of the world oceans organized by the EU large-scale project MicroB3 (FO Gloeckner, one of BioMarKs original stakeholder). Scientists over the world are realizing how important is the use of standard procedures to assess marine microbial genetic diversity over sufficient spatio-temporal scales to understand and model the dynamics of biodiversity changes in the oceans. In addition, during the last months of the project, we generated massive metabarcoding datasets from multi-years time-series sampling in both Roscoff and Blanes (Spain), at sites that are regularly sampled by local marine institute (e.g. the SOMLIT station for Roscoff).  This added a new and important time dimension to the original goal of the project centered on a spatial assessment of marine protistan biodiversity. All BioMarKs partners agreed upon the importance to apply the standard BioMarKs NGS protocols to survey genetic diversity change at their local time-series station (in Oslo, Naples, Nice), the metabarcoding tool being potentially the cheapest, fastest, and most powerful strategy to follow oceans diversity changes in the near future.

In terms of applications, P9, P7, P5, P3, P2, and P1 have all independently approached -or been contacted by- state agencies and/or private companies needing faster and cheaper tools to biomonitor marine biodiversity for different reasons: water quality, impact of mining or fish farming, detection of toxic micro-organism, etc. At the final BioMarKs meeting in Roscoff, we all agreed that a potential ‘BioMarKs 2.0’ project should be centered on applying the novel methods developed in ‘BioMarKs 1.0’ to economical cases, in partnership with industrial partners. We are exploring possibilities of continuing joint activities under the EU H2020 umbrella.