Had a good social evening last night, including Jonathan playing with the ROV in the pool at the bar. Started off the second morning with a short talk by Jonathan, introducing the concept of microbiomes and the goals for the meeting of coming up with a set of guidelines for marine microbiome studies.
The rest of the morning was dedicated to breakout groups… we split into 4 groups, two groups working on “what is the core microbiome?” and the other two working on “how do we define the core microbiome?”. These are very hard questions! Our group (“define core microbiome”) spent some time wondering whether this was an important question, or at least needed for most systems.
Having decided it was, we circled around a lot of the problems with defining the core microbiome. Microbiome varies with age, location, context, dysbiosis, etc. It matters whether you look at taxonomy or function and it might be that what you see changes based on taxonomic level queried. That’s without even getting into all the questions of experimental design, standards, extraction/PCR/preservation bias, etc.
After some great discussions on these topics, we headed for the boats to go check out some of the reefs in the area. We snorkeled in two different areas, one had a great transition from corals to seagrass to
mangroves (but we forgot the underwater camera!). Once we returned to the station we had a great discussion about the things we had seen and how they related to the broader topics of marine microbiomes and symbioses. After dinner we had a long and productive session on sampling strategies, data bias, protocols, and other technical considerations.
Here’s all the tweets from today: