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Tara Oceans: 40 million new genes decoded

A special issue of the journal Science features the first results from the Tara Oceans expedition with five publications, in which the CEA-IG participated. 35,000 samples were collected, 600 of which have already been analyzed by teams from the Genoscope. Among other things, the results unveil 40 million microbial genes, the vast majority of which are new.

Published on 25 May 2015

Massive sequencing of the carefully collected data from the three-year voyage of the Tara schooner on the world's oceans has started and is already bringing its share of surprises. For one thing, the diversity of planktonic life is even more abundant than expected. As an example, the CEA-IG analyzed one billion ribosomal DNA sequences from 334 sites. The researchers cataloged no less than 150,000 genetic types of eukaryotic unicellular organisms (protists), whereas only 11,000 species were described so far. In addition, metagenomic studies, namely the massive sequencing of genetic material derived from whole communities of microorganisms, revealed 40 million genes from marine viruses, prokaryotes and picoeukaryotes – of which more than 80% are new. The scientists have built the first database for genomic and morphological data on marine viruses.

The work published in the journal Science also highlights the exploration of the interactions between organisms (e.g. parasitism and symbiosis) and the construction of a database for studying the impact of climate change. The details of this exceptional adventure and its first results can be found in the press release below.

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