Melissa Garren: The sea we've hardly seen
Melissa Garren - Melissa Garren, Marine biologist
Melissa Garren is a molecular and marine biologist with a passion for unlocking the mysteries of our ocean's ecosystems and finding new avenues for conservation. Full bio
we will immerse ourselves
on a journey into the sea,
of its smallest inhabitants:
at how deeply connected our lives are
are often neglected
and policies about our oceans.
a microbial soup full of vibrant life.
are marine bacteria buzzing about
of the marine food web.
this world really is,
to most of my slides
of a single strand of human hair --
has five million bacteria
two gallons of seawater,
in those two gallons
your stomach turn,
we've each accidentally swallowed
from that seawater,
are working for us,
is that they provide
to thank the trees.
more huggable than the microbes.
that land plants only create
from macroalgae like kelp
tip your hats to the microbes.
powerhouse and, I might argue,
of recent marine microbiology.
on this little microbe
no matter where or when they lived.
of that relationship for a mere 24 years.
relationships are out there
microbes as parallel in many ways
with microbes in our gut.
of unhappy gut microbes
we have with marine microbes
when those communities change.
cholera is caused by a bacterium
are indeed helping us,
much like our gut,
balance of microbes.
applies to our ocean microbes as well.
an overfed ocean may look like,
of me sampling seawater.
a nearly dead coral reef
operation in the waters there.
in one of these two pictures,
had to be a whole lot closer
from each of these samples
communities would look like.
fish farm reef on your right.
a part of the ocean
but it could be a sewage spill
of other sources --
the physical discomforts
produced by some of these microbes.
from their tiny-scale existence,
a very large-scale power
from my talk today, let it be this:
relationship with these marine microbes
beginning to understand
curing a disease of unknown cause,
restoring ocean health
that control the chemistry of the ocean
can live there,
for us to swim there
characteristics we sense
members of the ocean,
they do indeed respond to human actions,
about coral reefs may have suggested,
of my time as a researcher
our own protective community of microbes.
organisms on this planet,
communities as well.
on the inside as we do in our gut,
to protect them from their surroundings
is a three-dimensional image
with all of its living bacteria,
exciting technology --
are the symbiotic algae
they both can use,
are the protective bacteria.
of the coral in white,
some tiny little blue dots
in a mucus layer,
of the coral's protective layer.
about these relationships,
from looking like the picture on your left
a very popular tourist snorkeling spot
cover over the past decade or so.
all around the globe at alarming rates,
both the good ones and the bad ones,
behaviors to this big picture
that looks like the right
that looks more like the left?
coral disease from spreading?
no one had ever seen a view like this.
of making the invisible visible.
of the same coral as before,
meets the seawater;
that we can finally see these bacteria
at their micro scale,
with the world around them.
are used to being able
what their study creatures do each day.
have desperately needed
technologies like this
and learn how they behave.
and the environment around them
better manage our oceans.
is by using microfluidics
behave in the ocean.
the conditions bacteria experience
chamber on a microscope slide
to record bacteria behavior.
bacteria and seawater flow
that I recently discovered
actually has the ability
and hunt for corals.
which are the tiny green dots on the left
on the right side of the channel,
over in that direction and stay there.
to find its host in the ocean.
and observing, we can learn
to seeking out their victims.
us closer than ever before
navigate that big blue ocean.
can even detect the coral mucus
to hunting down these corals.
different environmental conditions
this pathogen more or less capable
about what triggers the hunt,
can fight off the pathogen
and its healthy bacteria.
into our microbial oceans
look out at the sea,
of fresh ocean air and wonder:
of the unseen microbes doing
About the speaker:Melissa Garren - Melissa Garren, Marine biologist
Melissa Garren is a molecular and marine biologist with a passion for unlocking the mysteries of our ocean's ecosystems and finding new avenues for conservation.
Why you should listen
Melissa Garren studies marine microbes to better understand how pollution and climate change are destroying coral reefs and effecting our environment. Working under a fellowship from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute she began using molecular techniques to study microbial life in the ocean. At the Costa Rican wildlife refuge, Melissa helped spearhead a long-term monitoring project as well as educational initiatives. After recently receiving her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, she is now using microfluidic technology to understand the living ecosystem of coral reefs in a postdoctoral position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Melissa Garren | Speaker | TED.com