Interactive effects of global climate change and pollution on marine microbes: the way ahead



Newton C. M. Gomes, Department of Biology and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Campus de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal. Tel: +351 234370990; Fax: +351 234370309; E-mail:


Global climate change has the potential to seriously and adversely affect marine ecosystem functioning. Numerous experimental and modeling studies have demonstrated how predicted ocean acidification and increased ultraviolet radiation (UVR) can affect marine microbes. However, researchers have largely ignored interactions between ocean acidification, increased UVR and anthropogenic pollutants in marine environments. Such interactions can alter chemical speciation and the bioavailability of several organic and inorganic pollutants with potentially deleterious effects, such as modifying microbial-mediated detoxification processes. Microbes mediate major biogeochemical cycles, providing fundamental ecosystems services such as environmental detoxification and recovery. It is, therefore, important that we understand how predicted changes to oceanic pH, UVR, and temperature will affect microbial pollutant detoxification processes in marine ecosystems. The intrinsic characteristics of microbes, such as their short generation time, small size, and functional role in biogeochemical cycles combined with recent advances in molecular techniques (e.g., metagenomics and metatranscriptomics) make microbes excellent models to evaluate the consequences of various climate change scenarios on detoxification processes in marine ecosystems. In this review, we highlight the importance of microbial microcosm experiments, coupled with high-resolution molecular biology techniques, to provide a critical experimental framework to start understanding how climate change, anthropogenic pollution, and microbiological interactions may affect marine ecosystems in the future.