Common Baltic Sea cyanobacteria; nodularia and aphanizomenon. Photo: Narin Celepli.

The Baltic Sea is environmentally and economically important, but threatened sea as a result of human activities. Dr Birgitta Bergman, leader of the international MiMeBS program, and her research team focuses on identifying all microorganisms – from plankton to virus – and their roles in the life of the Baltic Sea. This is done by, for the first time, introducing potent high-throughput sequencing technologies (DNA and RNA level) into Baltic Sea microbial research. The ultimate aim is to help restore these waters by introducing the fundamental role of microorganisms in running the flow of nutrients and energy into management action plans in the Baltic Sea.

Focus on microbial research

The article presents an overview on some of the discoveries made – on how enormously diverse the microbial life is within the Baltic Sea, on how microbes have evolved to adapt to the unusual conditions offered by this semi-enclosed sea, on the potential neurodegenerative role of a microbial toxin – findings that together will help support management of the Baltic Sea and to predict consequences within future climate change scenarios.