A Holistic Approach to Marine Ecosystems Biology

© F.Latreille

Tara Oceans

Eric KARSENTI, Silvia G. ACINAS, Peer BORK, Chris BOWLER, Colomban DE VARGAS, Jeroen RAES, Matthew SULLIVAN, Detlev ARENDT, Francesca BENZONI, Jean-Michel CLAVERIE, Mick FOLLOWS, Gaby GORSKY, Pascal HINGAMP, Daniele IUDICONE, Olivier JAILLON, Stefanie KANDELS-LEWIS, Uros KRZIC, Fabrice NOT, Hiroyuki OGATA, Stéphane PESANT, Emmanuel Georges REYNAUD, Christian SARDET, Michael E. SIERACKI, Sabrina SPEICH, Didier VELAYOUDON, Jean WEISSENBACH, Patrick WINCKER, the TaraOceans Consortium.

PLoS Biology, Volume 9, Issue 10, 2011.


IntroductionWith biology becoming quantitative, systems-level studies can now be performed at spatial scales ranging from molecules to ecosystems. Biological data generated consistently across scales can be integrated with physico-chemical contextual data for a truly holistic approach, with a profound impact on our understanding of life [1]–[5]. Marine ecosystems are crucial in the regulation of Earth’s biogeochemical cycles and climate [6],[7]. Yet their organization, evolution, and dynamics remain poorly understood [8],[9]. The Tara Oceans project was launched in September 2009 for a 3-year study of the global ocean ecosystem aboard the ship Tara. A unique sampling programme encompassing optical and genomic methods to describe viruses, bacteria, archaea, protists, and metazoans in their physico-chemical environment has been implemented. Starting as a grassroots 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, cellular, and systems biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics, data management, and ecosystem modeling. This multidisciplinary community aims to generate systematic, open access datasets usable for probing the morphological and molecular makeup, diversity, evolution, ecology, and global impacts of plankton on the Earth system. […]