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It’s time to know more about the marine microbiome

It’s time to know more about the marine microbiome

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) is a North Atlantic initiative that is part of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance that stretches from the Arctic to the Antarctic (further details below). On February 2020, the AORA‘s Marine Microbiome Group elaborated a roadmap to collaboratively enhance marine microbiome research and applications across Canada, the European Union, and the USA. On July, the authors – including scientists and policymakers – have summarised in a high-level briefing where to place the transatlantic focus to realise the immense potential of the marine microbiome in aid of international scientific and societal priorities. The full version of the roadmap can be found in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Portal Global Resources.

The roadmap identified three thematic pillars of cooperation for the Atlantic marine science:

  • Environment and Climate
  • Food Value Chain
  • Biodiscovery

These themes and cross-cutting challenges resonate with the objectives of research strategies across Canada, the EU, and the USA. Examples include parallels with NOAA’s  Science & Technology Focus Areas of ‘Omics, Unmanned Systems, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Strategies, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Genomics Research Development Initiative (GRDI) that links human health, environment and food production. Similarly with the EU Marine Strategy Framework DirectiveEU Blue Growth Strategy, the updated EU Atlantic Action Plan – A new approach to the Atlantic maritime strategy – Atlantic action plan 2.0 and the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 a core part of the European Green Deal.  

The Marine Microbiome Roadmap is also well-aligned with the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. In relation to the UNDOS Implementation Plan v2.0, the Roadmap finds strong parallels with Objective 3, Outcome 3, and Challenge 2 and offers high-level guidance on integrating microbiome observation into existing observing systems to support a healthy, productive, and resilient ocean.

The delivery of the Marine Microbiome Roadmap marked the successful completion of the Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA) supporting the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance’s North Atlantic initiative. As a testament of the catalysing effect of the AORA-CSA, this expert group remains engaged as international cooperation continues to evolve – namely through our All-Atlantic Ocean Research Community (North and South Atlantic) – to support the transatlantic (and indeed global) alignment of strategy and expertise.

To learn more about the scientific and socio-economic value of the marine microbiome, save the date 3-4 December 2020 for the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum and register for the event once it opens. The All-Atlantic Ocean Community social media (Twitter and Facebook) will announce it in first hand. If you are interested in a special session on the marine microbiome, please express this interest by emailing

You can learn more about the Marine Microbiome Group in this video:

The History of the All-Atlantic Cooperation

The European Union Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area, in 2011, and the European Union Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic Area, in 2013, constituted the inaugural steps towards the development of a transatlantic cooperation initiative for marine science. The All-Atlantic Alliance then got a decisive push with the Galway Statement, signed between the European Union, Canada, and the United States of America, in 2013. This action was followed by the AORA-CSA that launched the construction of a marine science community in the North Atlantic. After the results obtained, the EU expanded the initiative to the South Atlantic by signing the Belém Statement with Brazil and South Africa, later followed by Administrative Arrangements with Cabo Verde and South Africa. Building on the success of the AORA-CSA, the construction of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Community is now being led by the AANChOR-CSA (October 2018-September 2022).