Studying the Ocean’s Microbiome

A collaboration looking at the micro-organisms in the seas aims to enhance our understanding of ocean processes and ecology


The ocean is alive, through and through, and not just with plants and animals that we can see. Every teaspoon of seawater contains millions of microorganisms that we are just beginning to understand.

Launched in July 2014, the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) aims to advance our understanding of the biology, ecology and biogeochemistry of the microbial processes that dominate the global ocean. The collaboration, now composed of 16 investigators working at Station ALOHA, about 60 miles north of Oahu, Hawai’i, in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, studies an ecosystem representative of a broad swath of the North Pacific Ocean.

The ocean’s billions of microorganisms, which together compose the ocean’s microbiome, depend on one another and on the ecosystem as a whole for healthy functioning. Therefore, study of the ocean’s microbiome on site is essential. And a combination of recent technological advances is making in situ study of the ocean’s microbiome possible.

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