Plankton, which includes all the organisms that drift with the currents (from the virus to animals), is the basis of the food chain and produces ~ 50% of the oxygen we breathe. It is at the forefront of environmental changes and reacts quickly to various changes in the environment, whether linked to pollution or climate change. Today, the ignorance of the biodiversity and plankton evolution is one of the biggest obstacles to modeling the functioning of our biosphere and the predicting of global environmental change.
The Plankton Planet project proposes an innovative and citizen oceanography, based on sailing, to take the pulse of the biodiversity and the health of our oceans on relevant time and space scales. Bring by researchers at the CNRS and the Tara-Oceans team (2009-2013, see the results published in the special issue of the journal Science on May 22, 2015), Plankton Planet aims to create a direct link between citizen sailors of the planet that sample marine plankton continuously
and the best international experts in oceanography that will analyze the collected material, mainly using massive sequencing DNA barcode that can identify and count all the species in each sample. The resulting data will provide vital information to measure the total plankton biodiversity in space and in time, force the operating models of planktonic ecosystems, and so predict its evolution in the oceans of the future.
The project «Plankton» can be a key endeavour over the next 5-10 years to gather a large amount of important data about oceanic ecosystems.
I strongly recommend the ‘Plankton Planet’ project as a low-cost means to collect critical, standardized genetic data from a large variety of oceanic biogeochemical provinces.
I find you proposed project both fascinating and exciting! The prospect of large-scale molecular characterizations of the diversity, and taxonomic and functional biogeography of the plankton, will be truly game-changing.
I hereby offer my formal support to this exciting project and I propose that the EMP conducts the mass sequencing of the ~500 plankton DNA samples collected within the context of the Plankton Planet pilot project.