Skip to content

Newsletter #3

December 1st, 2020

We hope you and your loved ones are all staying healthy, happy and relatively sane in these difficult times. As we learn to cope with challenges caused by the pandemic, we are continuing to make some progress on BioGeoSCAPES-related activities. We would like to keep you informed of events from around the globe that are maintaining the momentum behind a BioGeoSCAPES future program.

Some highlights of the most recent, ongoing and upcoming activities include:

  • Intercomparison of Ocean Metaproteomic Initiative, ongoing; funded by the US Ocean Carbon Biogeochemistry (OCB) program. This first ocean metaproteome intercomparison effort is underway, with samples collected from the Bermuda Atlantic Timeseries Station and distributed to participating laboratories in February 2020. Initial deadlines were delayed due to COVID laboratory shutdowns, but were recently restarted and data submissions are underway. A workshop (virtual or in person depending on the public health landscape) to discuss results is planned for summer of 2021. A more complete description of intercomparison activities and the upcoming workshop is available here: (
  • Manuscripts describing the recently launched Ocean Protein Portal have recently been published in the Journal of Proteome Research ( and
  • The US Ocean Carbon Biogeochemistry (OCB) Ocean Nucleic Acids ‘omics Intercalibration and Standardization Workshop was held at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on January 9-11, 2020. Thirty-two participants from across the US along with guests from Canada and France met to discuss the development of an intercalibration and standardization (I&S) effort for nucleic acid ‘omics approaches (e.g., amplicon sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics) to facilitate the formation of large international co-ordinated field programs such as BioGeoSCAPES. A workshop report is currently being synthesized that will include a recommendation of proposed ‘omic I&S activities for the oceanographic community. A more complete description of the workshop is available here (
  • China recently finished their GEOTRACES Process Study GPpr15, Carbon-FE (Carbon Fixation and Export in the oligotrophic ocean) cruise on RV Tan Kah KEE of Xiamen University. In total 36 scientists from Xiamen University, Ocean University of China and Shanghai Jiaotong University participated in the 51-day cruise (July 3 – August 22, 2020) to the western North Pacific, which included sampling and experiments to study spatial distribution, nutrient limitation and contribution to export production of nitrogen fixation in the region (for further details contact Dalin Shi;
  • In South Africa, discussions with the Department of Science and Innovation have been initiated to support BioGeoSCAPES activities (for further details contact Thulani Makhalanyane;
  • In Australia, a small group of scientists have met regularly, along with colleagues overseas, to discuss how to integrate molecular, physiological, and biogeochemical approaches in future BioGeoSCAPES campaigns. This working group is writing a manuscript to be submitted in early 2021. The intent of this paper is to foster dialogue on how BioGeoSCAPES can combine these disciplines to realise the most impactful science (for further details contact Robert Strzepek;
  • In Europe, Martha Gledhill (GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research) and Sandi Orlic (Institut Ruđer Bošković, Zagreb, Croatia) received funding from Euromarine for a pan-European workshop to further foster BioGeoSCAPES collaborations and to support their COST application. The workshop will be scheduled sometime in 2021 (for further details contact Martha Gledhill;
  • In Italy: 1) scientists at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Napoli, Italy) are organizing an Italian working group, together with ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Giovanna Armiento). A meeting is planned for early 2021; 2) Italian scientists have completed a 1-year pilot phase of the local augmented observatory NEREA (Naples Ecological REsearch for Augmented Observatories, which consider physics, chemistry (including trace elements) and biology (microscopy and advanced genomics). EU funding is in place for a 3-year continued operation of this activity, which will constitute the initial core of the Italian contribution to BioGeoSCAPES; and 3) A series of cruises, which included trace elements sampling, were conducted in the Tyrrhenian Sea by ENEA (for further details contact Daniele Iudicone;
  • In the United Kingdom, a small group of scientists met in January 2020 to discuss how to begin organising the BioGeoSCAPES community. A mailing list was set up (email: and Alessandro Tagliabue (University of Liverpool), Thomas Mock (University of East Anglia), Julie Robidart (National Oceanography Centre) and Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo (University of Bristol) successfully applied to the Royal Society for a two day discussion meeting around ‘marine microbes in a changing climate’ to be held sometime in 2022.
  • A new large scale project that will characterize the Atlantic Ocean microbiome ( is taking shape. The EU-funded AtlantECO project (2020-2024, 36 partners, 11M Euros) aims to develop and apply a novel, unifying framework that provides knowledge-based resources for a better understanding and management of the Atlantic Ocean and its ecosystem services. The project focuses on three pillars of research: microbiomes, microplastic and the plastisphere, and seascape connectivity. It will develop and disseminate in the oceanographic community the use of advanced approaches (-omics, optics, sensors). Flagship cruises will sample the microbiome and microplastics combining these tools with a full characterization of the environment, including trace elements. The aim is to reach an All Atlantic assessment of the microbiome status and functioning. This program seeks to align their research goals with those of a BioGeoSCAPES program.
  • The 1st France BioGeoSCAPES Planning Workshop was planned for May 4-7, 2020 in Toulouse, but due to COVID, it has been rescheduled to a virtual meeting on December 7-8, 2020. Organizers: Catherine Jeandel, Ingrid Obernoster ( and Damien Cardinal.
  • A US BioGeoSCAPES Planning Workshop entitled “Laying the foundation for a potential future BioGeoSCAPES program: Assessing needs and capabilities for studying controls on ocean metabolism through integrated omics and biogeochemistry” is being organized by Ben Twining, Mak Saito, Alyson Santoro, Adrian Marchetti, and Naomi Levine. The workshop was scheduled for the fall of 2020, but has been rescheduled due to the pandemic. The proposed new dates for the workshop are mid to late 2021, depending on the public health situation. A more complete description of the workshop is available here:
  • A couple of BioGeoSCAPES Sessions at the ASLO 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (June 22-27) have been proposed, including “Distribution and impacts of ocean nutrient limitation” convened by Tom Browning, Erin Bertrand, Mark Moore, and Al Tagliabue. The approved sessions will be published in the meeting webpage ( at the end of 2020 and will be listed in our next newsletter in spring 2021.
  • The engineering and science trials of the autonomous underwater vehicle Clio, designed for basin-scale sampling of ‘omics and biogeochemistry, have been completed and described in this publication (, and Clio’s potential role in BioGeoSCAPES is portrayed in this Inner Workings article in PNAS (

We would also like to take the opportunity to encourage you to organize your own national meeting to continue gauging interest and brainstorming your national scientific goals. During these national meetings we would like to suggest discussing/addressing the following questions:

1) What science questions do we see as the most important within the broad scope of BioGeoSCAPES on a 10 year timeframe? 2) How would your nation best contribute to BioGeoSCAPES efforts – e.g. fieldwork, laboratory work, modelling, intercalibration efforts, project coordination, data management, bioinformatics? 3) Are there any impediments within your nation that the International program could seek to mitigate via training or collaboration? 4) What productive strategies can you undertake to secure funding for a BioGeoSCAPES program in your nation? The answers to these questions by each nation will be invaluable in guiding the write up of the international BioGeoSCAPES science plan in the next couple of years. We will also like to start populating the website with 2-page National Scoping Documents summarizing the Planning Workshop outcomes, using the answers to these 4 questions as a starting template.

BioGeoSCAPES related science is being promoted on social media through the Twitter account “@BioGeoSCAPES”. If you have any highlights for the Twitter feed, please share them with us.

Thanks for showing interest in BioGeoSCAPES!


Adrian Marchetti, Mak Saito, Alessandro Tagliabue, and Maite Maldonado.

For those who are new to this initiative, here is a bit of history

BioGeoSCAPES is the concept for a potential future interdisciplinary global-scale microbial biogeochemistry program that arose out of a small international working group in late 2018 (see the meeting report here and various prior related activities. BioGeoSCAPES is at an early stage of the organizing process, when those interested are gauging and aiming to build international community support, as well as discussing potential science objectives and parameters.

Upcoming plans include organizing national meetings to continue gauging interest and brainstorming scientific goals. In addition, initial intercalibration efforts are being encouraged for potential parameter such as the recently organized metagenomic and metaproteomic intercalibration projects. Future sessions at international meetings are also being organized, such as at the ASLO 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (June 22-27).

In parallel, we would like to find a way to facilitate the inclusion of more nations and researchers in BioGeoSCAPES activities. To help with this we have begun a list of ambassadors and shared it here

If you would like to get involved in BioGeoSCAPES activities, please contact your country’s representative listed at the link above, or one of us. If your country is not listed and you wish to be added as a representative, please contact us (Mak, Al, Adrian or Maite).

Scroll To Top