The ocean is the Earth's largest ecosystem, but we know very little about it. This is particularly true for plankton, even though they form the base of marine food webs and are key players in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. Ocean plankton are at least as important for the Earth system as the forests on land, but most of them are invisible to the naked eye and thus are largely uncharacterized. To increase our understanding of this underexplored world, a multidisciplinary consortium, Tara Oceans, was formed around the research sailboat Tara, which sampled plankton in all the major oceanic regions during expeditions between 2009 and 2013.
This program will summarize the Tara Ocean project's efforts to the largest DNA sequencing effort for the oceans. It provides unique resources for several scientific disciplines that are foundational for mapping ocean biodiversity of a wide range of organisms that are rarely studied together, exploring their interactions, and integrating biology into our physical and chemical understanding of the ocean. The project's efforts are also vital to identifying new organisms and genes of biotechnological interest. Tara Ocean's resources are critical for developing baseline information for tracking the impact of climate change on the ocean.
Romain Troublé has been the Executive Director of the Tara Ocean Foundation since 2006. Troublé first joined the foundation in 2004, leading operational management for the Tara expeditions.
Romain Troublé has a double education with a Master 2 in molecular biology at Sorbonne University and a Master at HEC & Telecom Paris. He has also been a professional racer at the highest level with, notably, two participations in the America's Cup for French challenges in 2000 and 2003 in Auckland, NZ.
From 2003 to 2006, he worked for a company specializing in polar logistics in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Siberia for sports and scientific expeditions to the poles as well as discoveries of frozen mammoths in the permafrost.
Dr. Chris Bowler is Director of Research at CNRS and is Director of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Section of the Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. He completed his PhD at the University of Ghent in Belgium, followed by postdoctoral studies at Rockefeller University in New York. In 1994 he established his own research group working on signaling in higher plants and marine diatoms at the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, Italy, and in 2002, he took up his current position in Paris. He is EMBO member since 1995, a recipient of the CNRS Silver Medal in 2010, an ERC Advanced Award in 2012, and the Louis D Foundation Grand Prix Scientifique from the Institut de France in 2015.
His major research interest is in understanding the response of plants and marine diatoms to environmental signals. In marine diatoms, he established molecular tools to assess gene function, and he has played a major role in coordinating the whole genome sequencing of several species. Using functional genomics, he has revealed the cellular response of diatoms to nutrients such as iron and nitrogen, to different wavelengths of light, and to allelopathic infochemicals. He is one of the scientific coordinators of the Tara Oceans project.
Dr. Matthew B. Sullivan is a professor of microbiology and Director of the Center of Microbiome Science at Ohio State University. Dr. Sullivan's research focus is on the co-evolution of microbe and virus (phage) in environmental populations, as well as the impact of marine phages on microbe-mediated global biogeochemistry. Genomics and model-systems-based experimentation revealed that cyanobacterial phages often contain host photosynthesis genes, which are expressed during infection and act as a diversity generator for their numerically-dominant, globally-distributed photosynthetic hosts. Using a genomic and metagenomic toolkit, we query 'wild' viral populations to identify important hypotheses that can be evaluated using model-system approaches with appropriate phage isolates.
The Sullivan lab is also developing single-cell assays to investigate questions that are critical for modeling and predicting the impacts of phage-host interactions in the wild. Specifically, these include gaining an understanding of the in situ host range of phage isolates, the metabolic capacity of to-date uncultured phage-host systems, the impacts of host growth status on phage production, and the fraction of microbial cells that are infected in wild populations.