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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Hawaii
  • David M Karl
  • (808) 956-8964
  • Jonathan P Zehr
  • Sallie W Chisholm
  • Edward F DeLong
Award Date:07/31/2006
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 18,960,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 36,936,000
  • FY 2009=$4,000,000
  • FY 2015=$2,656,000
  • FY 2010=$4,000,000
  • FY 2008=$4,000,000
  • FY 2014=$3,320,000
  • FY 2007=$4,000,000
  • FY 2012=$4,000,000
  • FY 2011=$4,000,000
  • FY 2006=$2,960,000
  • FY 2013=$4,000,000
Start Date:08/01/2006
End Date:07/31/2017
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE)
Federal Award ID Number:0424599
DUNS ID:965088057
Parent DUNS ID:009438664
Program Officer:
  • Matthew Kane
  • (703) 292-7186

Awardee Location

Street:2440 Campus Road, Box 368
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Hawaii
Street:2440 Campus Road, Box 368
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

More than half the biomass on Earth is made up of microorganisms: bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, unicellular algae and viruses. They are the most abundant and diverse forms of life on our planet and are the chief engineers of the global carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Paradoxically, microbes are also the life forms about which we know the least. Startling advances in environmental genomics and high performance computing are now enabling researchers to decipher the genetic code of entire communities of microorganisms. When coupled with advances in automated remote-controlled submersible technologies, this will make possible the deployment of genomic sensors to examine, with unprecedented resolving power, the properties and activities of microorganisms on our planet. The Center of Microbial Oceanography Research and Education (C-MORE) headquartered at the University of Hawaii (UH) will bring together a multidisciplinary team of scientists and educators to focus on the identities, roles and impacts of microorganisms in the world's largest biome: the ocean. The center is to have four research foci: i) genomic, physiological and other aspects of microbial diversity; ii) the role of microbial metabolism in elemental cycling; iii) development and deployment of novel sensors and instruments for remote automated sampling and processing; and iv) computer simulation, modeling and forecasting of ecosystem processes. Oceanographic, microbiological, genomic, geochemical, informatic and computational methods will be the means through which these foci are integrated with one another via team studies of the North Pacific subtropical gyre. The result will be the first high resolution view of inter-dependent microbial lifestyles and processes that govern the flow of energy and elements in the ocean. C-MORE will integrate the four research themes and their objectives with a varied and diverse portfolio of education and outreach activities for students of all ages. The Center will push interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty, students and postdoctoral scientists in an accelerated fashion to train a new breed of microbial oceanographer, and will help to train teachers and develop curricula at the undergraduate and secondary education levels. Implementation of these activities is also designed to increase the number of students and teachers engaged in quantitative sciences and engineering, focusing on underrepresented groups in science, especially Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. The center will be led by a team of four marine microbial ecologists: David Karl, Sallie Chisholm, Edward DeLong and Jonathan Zehr. Another fourteen scientists and educators will be collaborators, covering biological, physical, geochemical and engineering aspects of oceanography as well as genomic, physiological and ecological aspects of microbiology. In addition to UH, co-PIs and collaborators represent five other institutions (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Oregon State University, University of California Santa Cruz and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). The consolidated efforts of the Center will drive research in microbial oceanography forward at a vastly accelerated rate. Automated remote and in situ sampling and sensing platforms, coupled with mathematical modeling will provide a template for future networks of microbial observing systems. These will provide the sort of information that science and society require to understand and manage our changing Earth system.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Life on Earth most likely originated as microorganisms in the sea.  Over the past 3.5-4 billion years, marine microbes have shaped and defined Earth’s biosphere and, through their metabolism, created environmental conditions that allowed the evolution of macroorganisms and complex biological communities.  Today microbes inhabit and sustain all terrestrial and marine environments; they are truly the “unseen majority.”  Marine microbes are ubiquitous, numerous and extremely diverse in their genetic composition and metabolic capabilities.  They catalyze key transformations of carbon and associated bioelements, maintain the productivity of the oceans, consume many greenhouse gases and serve as a critical intermediary in marine food webs, linking sunlight and the large reservoir of dissolved organic matter to higher trophic levels, including fish.  Until recently, very little was known about the biology and ecology of marine microorganisms, especially their genomic and metabolic properties, and their temporal and spatial dynamics in the sea.  On 1 August 2006, the Center for Microbial Oceanography:  Research and Education (C-MORE) embarked on a decade-long journey to create and disseminate fundamental knowledge about microbes in the sea and the ecosystem services that they perform.  Advances in molecular biology, genomics, remote sensing and ecosystem modeling presented new opportunities to fuse these otherwise separate disciplines into a targeted inquiry into the microbial ecology of the oceans through an integrated Center.  From the beginning, the hallmark of C-MORE was an integration across scales of biological organization, from the genetic blueprints of microbial life to the structure and function of marine ecosystems.  C-MORE sponsored a broad range of laboratory- and field-based collaborative research efforts to increase our basic understanding of how microbiological diversity at the genomic level expresses itself at the ecosystem function level, and to transfer this new knowledge to other scientists, policymakers and the public at large.  Much of our field work was conducted at a single marine ecosystem, Station ALOHA, located 100 kilometers north of Oahu, Hawaii at a site that is characteristic of the expansive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, one of the largest biomes on our planet.  The field research conducted at Station ALOHA covered a broad range of disciplines that we divided into four separate, but interrelated, themes:  biodiversity, metabolism, remote sensing and modeling.  Many significant “theme-specific” contributions were made, but our most fundamental achievements were from the comprehensive, integrated and collaborative investigations that crossed disciplinary boundaries and ecosystem time and space scales.  Station ALOHA is also the site of the long-term ocean time-series program dubbed the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT), a unique NSF-funded program to understand time-varying exchanges of carbon between the atmosphere and the surface ocean, fluxes of carbon throughout the water column and into deep sea sediments, and the overall impacts of global environmental change on these processes.  With the 25-year HOT data set as a firm foundation, C-MORE was able to enhance our understanding of microbial processes on an unprecedented scale.  One key to our success was to assemble a coherent team of scientists, engineers, educators and students from a broad range of disciplines who otherwise did not have the opportunity to communicate, collaborate or design creative solutions to long-term ecosystem-scale problems.  The research and education missions of C-MORE crossed geographical, disciplinary and cultural boundaries.  C-MORE built enduring partnerships, implemented novel education and outreach programs and enhanced the diversity of human resources in oceanography and related disciplines.  C-MORE’s legacy includes a paradigm shift in the discipline of microbial oceanography, not only in new scientific understanding that was gained, but also in the approach to study very large, complex scientific questions.  The collaborative, transdisciplinary approach developed by C-MORE can also be applied to other disciplines that seek to integrate observation, theory and predictions across multiple complex scales of biological and ecological organization.  Finally, C-MORE trained a large cadre of students and post-docs who will continue to carry out the scientific and education missions of our Center for many years to come.

Last Modified: 10/30/2017
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