The aim of this research program is to understand how the disruption of ecosystems affects microorganisms in Arctic soils. To achieve our goals, we will use the EcoChip, a microbial in situ culture system for measuring the growth of microorganisms in their natural environment that also enables acquiring and transmitting real-time environmental metadata. The sites under consideration for the deployment of EcoChip span 30 degrees of latitude in the Northern regions and part of the SILA environmental network. We aim to identify sentinel bacteria and investigate how spatiotemporal features affect the microbial consortia. We will design analytical approaches based on integrative genomics, bioinformatics, geolocation and machine learning to quantify the health of Northern ecosystems by measuring in real time these key microbial markers.
Our program will enable making predictions of the impact of large-scale environmental changes due to climate change or human intervention on the microorganisms and the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. In situ analysis of microorganisms with EcoChip will also allow to develop high performance metabolomic models to assess the Nordic molecular diversity and to discover new compounds with potential medical applications including the treatment of tuberculosis. We will therefore use our new high throughput metabolomic mass spectrometry approaches coupled to machine learning in order to accelerate the process of identifying molecules having potential medicinal properties. We will be in a position to exploit the potential of bioproducts for their clinical or industrial uses. With these tools, we will be able to evaluate the impact of environmental changes in the North and effectively add value to the microorganisms found in these environments. At the end of our initiative, we will greatly improve our understanding of the changes occurring in the Northern environments and their impact on human health.