The Seagrass Microbiome
Microbial organisms can be found in nearly all environments on Earth and have been shown to play critical roles in the health of organisms and ecosystems alike. However studies of these organisms have often been limited to culture-dependent methods which inadequately capture the diversity of these important communities. The microbial communities living in and on seagrass (collectively known as a “microbiome”) are one example of an understudied system. As a foundation species, seagrasses themselves play an important role in coastal marine environment health by providing a refuge habitat for small marine fauna in addition to their other contributions of primary production and water filtration. In this study we seek to characterize and compare the microbiomes of two different species of seagrass, Zostera marina and Phyllospadix scouleri using culture- independent 16s ribosomal RNA survey methods. This study will not only help us understand the variation of the seagrass microbiome within one plant, it will also provide insight into methodologies for future, broader- reaching studies of seagrass microbiomes and their effects on seagrass health.