About ICoMM

The International Census of Marine Microbes (ICoMM) will facilitate the inventory of marine microbial diversity.

It will develop a strategy to:

  • catalogue all known diversity of single-cell organisms inclusive of the Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and associated viruses
  • explore and discover unknown microbial diversity
  • place that knowledge into appropriate ecological and evolutionary contexts.
Examples of questions that ICoMM will address include:

  • What governs the evolution of marine microbial lineages within complex marine communities?
  • Why do marine microbial consortia retain functionally equivalent but genetically distinct lineages?
  • Is there a marine microbial biogeography and if so, what are the principal drivers or restrictors?
  • How does genotypic diversity shape phenotypic diversity, and how does this diversity influence the functioning of marine ecosystems?

ICoMM has five major activities:

  1. support scientific working groups focusing on
    • open ocean and coastal systems
    • benthic systems
    • databases
    • technology that is specifically required for a microbial census.
  2. develop the database resource MICROBIS which will organize morphological, molecular and contextual information for marine microbial diversity within a framework that integrates into OBIS.
  3. provide resources that can facilitate and coordinate requests for research support from governmental and private foundations.
  4. facilitate education and outreach of ICoMM and make it visible to the general public and raise awareness of its goals
  5. support small-scale, pilot projects that have the potential to shape larger-scale research initiatives in marine microbial diversity.

To be successful, ICoMM must promote international cooperation and forge linkages with existing and new CoML field projects for collecting samples, contextual information and new technologies. ICoMM recognizes that projects currently underway or completed over the past decade will have an important impact on the census. Participation by principal investigators of current projects in the ICoMM initiative will accelerate progress and ultimately lead to an organized constituency for seeking funding from agencies and foundations. At the same time, ICoMM will engage the broader community of microbiologists with complementary interests in microbial diversity, evolution, biogeography and their functional roles in marine systems.