Argonne National Laboratory

Shedd Aquarium teams up with Argonne, others for first study of aquarium microbiology

February 3, 2015

Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium announced the launch of the Aquarium Microbiome Project today — the first-ever study exploring the microscopic living community in a controlled aquarium environment and its impact on the animals that live in them. The collaborative research project will revolutionize water quality standards, enhancing best practices to create aquatic environmental conditions for the optimal health of animals in zoological settings and in the wild.

The study partners include Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Argonne is extremely pleased to partner with the Shedd Aquarium and the other project collaborators on this important microbiome research," said Jack Gilbert, an Argonne microbial ecologist whose ongoing research is focused on exploring how microbial communities assemble themselves in natural and man-made environments. "It is our belief that what we learn about aquarium ecosystems will have a significant impact on understanding how we can effectively manage these and other human environments in the best way possible."

The Aquarium Microbiome Project will focus on animal health, creating the best aquatic environment possible by identifying elements that support good microbes and maintaining a more balanced microbiome makeup in waters at aquariums and all over the world. In fact, over 98 percent of naturally occurring biogeochemical processes in the oceans are directed by the microbes that live in them.

Read the full release at the Shedd Aquarium.