image of bacteria About C-MORE

The Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) is one of 17 National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers (NSF-STC) across the nation, and the only one in Hawai‘i. The NSF-STC program exists to create partnerships to study large, complex problems of great scientific and societal relevance. C-MORE’s focus is on the key role that marine microorganisms play in sustaining a habitable planet from solar energy capture to food production to the sequestration of carbon dioxide.

Life on Earth originated as microbes in the sea. Over the past 3.5 to 4 billion years, microorganisms have shaped and defined Earth’s biosphere, and created conditions that allowed the evolution of macroorganisms and complex biological communities including human societies. Microorganisms are the foundation of life and are key to Earth’s habitability and sustainability. In open ocean ecosystems, planktonic microbes dominate the living biomass, harvest light energy, produce organic matter and the oxygen we breathe, and facilitate the storage, transport, and turnover of key bio-elements. Their metabolic activities are responsible for the production and consumption of most of Earth’s greenhouse gases. As microbiologist Louis Pasteur noted more than a century ago, “The very great is accomplished by the very small.” Recent advances in technology have revealed the vast and previously unknown genetic information contained in the contemporary marine microbial assemblage. Now there is a unique opportunity to achieve a comprehensive understanding of life in the sea and its susceptibility to environmental variability and human-induced climate change.

image of people in lab on ship To accomplish its mission, the Center brings together individuals who otherwise have little opportunity to interact. Headquartered at the the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), the interdisciplinary team includes scientists, engineers and educators from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Oregon State University (OSU), University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC), and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Funding for the Center is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Agouron Institute.