Arctic ecosystems are underpinned by communities of diverse microscopic lifeforms, collectively referred to as microbiomes.
These occur as interacting networks that control biogeochemical processes such as greenhouse gas production and nutrient cycling, and they contribute to the base of food webs and affect populations changes at higher trophic levels.
Genomic analysis has shown that microbiomes contain assemblages of viruses, archaea, bacteria and microbial eukaryotes that are functionally as well as taxonomically diverse, but still little is known about the extent of that diversity, network relationships, spatial and temporal variation, and coupling to ecosystem processes.
Microbiomes are specific to habitat types, and their study therefore also requires the characterisation of physical, chemical and biological properties of their host environment.
Nostoc from the High Arctic
Thermokarst pond microbial network (Comte et al. 2016)