The project is part of the 10-year, $1 billion Census of Marine Life, a massive collaboration to catalog and map marine species worldwide involving hundreds of scientists in more than 70 countries. The International Census of Marine Microbes (or ICoMM) project is supported with a seed grant of $900,000 from the New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr., then president and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation. The Sloan Foundation has been a primary supporter of the ambitious Census of Marine Life project since its inception nearly five years ago.
The world's oceans are teeming with microscopic life forms. Most of the Earth's biodiversity is microbial in nature, particularly in the oceans where microorganisms account for more than 90 percent of the biomass. For more than three billion years, these creatures have mediated critical processes that shaped the planet's habitability.
The goal of ICoMM is to report what is known, what is unknown but knowable, and what may never be known about the biodiversity of marine microorganisms by 2010. In addition to cataloging existing and discovering new organisms, the project aims to understand the evolutionary and ecological processes by which marine microbial diversity has been created and is maintained. The project marks the first global effort to acquire information about dive
Contact: Gina Hebert
Marine Biological Laboratory