In 2009, the Tara research schooner carried scientists from various disciplines including ecology, oceanography, cell biology, genetics and systems biology, to study plankton. The four-year expedition allowed scientists to gather thousands of water samples for imaging and sequencing in order to study plankton diversity and assess the impact of climate change on ocean ecology. Throughout the journey, researchers used Illumina’s HiSeq Systems to sample, analyze and sequence salt-water samples from around the globe.
Plankton is known to be a vital part of the Earth’s life support system, providing half of the oxygen generated each year by photosynthesis and lying at the base of marine food chains on which all other ocean life depends. However, until recently, the organization, evolution and dynamics of marine ecosystems have been poorly understood. Researchers aim to set sail again some time this year to sample the water and coral in the coral reefs of the West Pacific.
For more from the organizers of the Tara expedition, click here.