From the microbiome to the ecosystem: unraveling the effects of marine protected areas on ecosystem services through the lens of trophic diversity

Preserving marine ecosystem services is a key priority worldwide as they support the livelihood and well-being of millions of its citizens. For that purpose, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been implemented all over the world and their positive effect on species diversity has been extensively documented. However, their impact on functional traits remains poorly characterized. The goal of the European project METRODIVER is to assess the effect of MPAs on trophic diversity and food web functioning, as well as ecosystem services (productivity), fish health and human health.

One of the aims of this project is to understand the relationship between the fish characteristics (diet, age, nutritional value, respectively) or the MPA characteristics (size, age, protection level) and the functional diversity of the fish gut microbiome. For that purpose, we characterize the intestinal microbiome (both at the taxonomic and functional level) of a model fish in ten MPAs in the Mediterranean Sea. The characterization of fish populations is combined with the analysis of the gut microbiome using metagenomics and metatranscriptomics, in order to assess (expressed) functional microbial gene (i) diversity (composition/richness/evenness) and (ii) overlap within and between fish individuals.

Academic research partners: Dr Charlotte Sirot and Dr Joachim Claudet (coordinators, CRIOBE, CNRS, France), Drs. Deirdre Brophy and Conor Graham (Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland), Profs. Andreas Schramm and Ian Marshall (Center for Geomicrobiology, Dept. of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Period of the study: December 2019- November 2023

Financial support: BiodivERsA2018 European joint call – « Effects of biodiversity status and changes on animal, human and plant health »

ESA members participating to the project: George, I.