The NTL Microbial Observatory advances the understanding of lake bacterioplankton, whose diversity and population dynamics are currently the least understood off all freshwater planktonic organisms. Through identification and characterization of predominant bacterial populations in a suite of strongly contrasting lakes, significant new insights are gained into the ecological roles of bacteria in diverse freshwater ecosystems. Research is structured to answer four key questions:
- What are the spatial and temporal patterns in microbial community composition and diversity in temperate lakes, and how do these patterns relate to variability in production and respiration?
- How are the structure and functions of pelagic microbial communities influenced by key chemical, physical and biological characteristics of lakes?
- Can we identify microbial taxa that predominate in a range of lakes of contrasting organic matter input from primary production and watershed sources?
- What are the biochemical, physiological, ecological properties of important microbial taxa in lakes, and what are their contributions to ecological processes?