Tara Oceans schooner

TARA Oceans schooner – image credit: J.Girardot/Tara Expéditions

Ban Ki-moon, General secretary of UN visits TARA

EMBL's Eric Karsenti joins Ban Ki-Moon on TARA's bow – image credit: J.Girardot/Tara Expéditions

Telling the story of life – its past and future

Life began in the ocean. It tells the story of how the most complex organisms evolved from primordial bacteria and it will tell us about the fate of the myriad organisms present today. As the oceans are the largest cohesive eco-system on earth the insights that researchers will be able to derive are crucial not only for the preservation of mankind but also of our planet.

Plankton and the climate

Plankton’s importance for the earth’s climate is at least equivalent to that of the rainforest. Yet only a small fraction of organisms that compose it have been classified and analysed. Tiny organisms are collaborating in huge numbers for maximum impact, absorbing CO2 and releasing O2 back into the atmosphere. What are they, how do they function, and why does it matter?

The final analysis – EMBL’s unique contribution

The scientific activities of the TARA Oceans expedition, led by EMBL senior scientist Eric Karsenti, present an unprecedented effort that resulted In 28 000 samples containing millions of small organism collected in more than 150 ocean stations, chosen for their climatic significance or biodiversity. Putting to work its extremely advanced microscopy facility, analysing the genetic sequences of all organism with sophisticated bioinformatics tools, and explaining the story of life through surprising opportunities in evolutionary biology, EMBL is putting the crowning analysis on top of one of the most ambitious projects of our time.