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Press release | Scientific result | Focus | Fundamental Research | Cellular mechanisms | Impact of climate change | Climate | Oceanography
Run in collaboration with the countries bordering the Arctic Ocean, the work includes samples from the 2013 circumnavigation by the scientific schooner Tara of the edge of the Arctic ice pack, one of the regions most affected by climate change. It enabled the viruses to be
documented through analysis of their DNA. Data collection was extended beyond the Arctic Ocean to other oceans, and to greater depths than in previous studies.
Because these viruses have an impact on all marine planktonic organisms (bacteria, archaea, protists and animals), a detailed survey of them is extremely valuable. Viruses can alter the structure of bacterial populations by colonizing them, stimulating their metabolism, or modifying their evolutionary trajectory, affecting the ocean's overall capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
Marine planktonic microorganisms play a vital role on Earth: they produce more than half of the oxygen that we breath and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, transferring it to the ocean floor.
By developing new methods to sequence the genomes of these viruses within plankton populations, researchers were able to study genetic variations:
These world maps of viral diversity are surprising in that almost all viral communities are split into only five groups, according to their location and depth. The viral diversity measured in the Arctic Ocean is also surprising: most studies of unicellular and multicellular organisms have concluded that the greatest diversity is found in the tropics, and that it diminishes with proximity to the poles.
These new results suggest that the Arctic Ocean is a little-known 'cradle' of viral biodiversity. They highlight the importance of the Arctic regions, which are heavily impacted by climate change, for global biodiversity.
This study was supported notably by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the National Science Foundation and Oceanomics and France Génomique (French Investments for the Future program).
 Patterns and ecological drivers of ocean viral communities. J.R. Brum, J.C. Ignacio-Espinosa, S. Roux et al., Science, May 22, 2015. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261498
© Jennifer Brum and Matt B. Sullivan / Lab. Ohio State
 The Tara Oceans Research Federation, consisting of 22 French and international research teams, set up the GO-SEE (Global Oceans Systems Ecology & Evolution) program involving in particular the CNRS, CEA, Tara Océan Foundation, Sorbonne University, PSL, Inserm, ENS Paris, IRD, EPHE, Évry-Val d’Essonne University, Paris-Saclay University, UPVD, AMU, University of Toulon, École Centrale de Nantes, University of Nantes, UGA, EMBL and the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Chile.
Marine DNA viral macro- and micro-diversity from pole to pole. Ann C Gregory, Ahmed A Zayed, Nádia Conceição-Neto, Ben Temperton, Ben Bolduc, Adriana Alberti, Mathieu Ardyna, Ksenia Arkhipova, Margaux Carmichael, Corinne Cruaud, Céline Dimier, Guillermo Domínguez-Huerta, Joannie Ferland, Stefanie Kandels-Lewis, Yunxiao Liu, Claudie Marec, Stéphane Pesant, Marc Picheral, Sergey Pisarev, Julie Poulain, Jean-Éric Tremblay, Dean Vik, Tara Oceans coordinators, Marcel Babin, Chris Bowler, Alexander I Culley, Colomban de Vargas, Bas E Dutilh, Daniele Iudicone, Lee Karp-Boss, Simon Roux, Shinichi Sunagawa, Patrick Wincker, & Matthew B Sullivan. Cell. Online on April 25.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.