The New Age of Ocean Discovery: Opportunities from Tara Oceans

October 2018

Marine plankton form the base of marine food webs and are key players in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, yet we know very little about them. To increase our understanding of this underexplored world, a multidisciplinary consortium, Tara Oceans, was formed around the 110-foot research schooner Tara, which sampled plankton worldwide during expeditions from 2009 to 2013, collecting more than 35,000 highly contextualized samples. These data collectively represent the largest sequence dataset for any biome on Earth and have already revealed huge numbers of previously unknown taxa, their interactions with each other and their environment, as well as their gene repertoires, and provide untold opportunities for further exploration at scales ranging from molecular to global. During this workshop, Tara Oceans scientists will interact with experts in ecology, oceanography, bioinformatics, and evolutionary biology to discuss how Tara Oceans data could be leveraged to test hypotheses relating to the origin, complexification, and ecological dynamics of life, and to identify new biochemical and organismal functionalities.