Plankton ecosystems are at the root of oceans foodweb, and play a key role in the regulation of our atmosphere’s dynamics and overall earth climate. Yet, their organisation, evolution and dynamics remain poorly understood. The Tara Oceans Project was launched in September 2009 for a 3 year exploration of the world’s ocean plankton ecosystems aboard the ship TARA. This project is collecting and archiving coherent and comprehensive physico-chemical data sets, oceanographic, ecological and biological samples. The sampling has been devised to allow “end to end” quantitative and genomic analysis of organisms from viruses to fish larvae. Starting as a grassroot initiative of a few scientists, the project has grown into a global consortium of over 100 specialists from diverse disciplines, including oceanography, microbial ecology, genomics, molecular and cell biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics and physical modeling. This multidisciplinary community organises and analyses the Tara Oceans project samples and data with the aim of generating coherent, open access data sets, usable for global ecosystems modeling as well as symbiosis, marine life evolution and ocean metabolomics analyses. This project will generate important information and tools to better understand the relationship between environmental changes and ocean life, result in the identification of new functions and genes of importance to human health and energy production. In the seminar I will show how the expedition has been organised, the sampling strategy, the on-land analysis strategy, the types of results that we expect and why this will be important. I will show some initial results using metagenomics concerning the biodiversity of bacterial, viral, protist and metazoan populations and preliminary results on the ecosystems structure to indicate how we will make sense of the large amount of data generated by this expedition.
Session Chair: Geoffrey O'Sullivan, The Marine Institute, Ireland
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