“ wOrld oCEAN biOressources, biotechnologies, and Earth-systeM servICeS

Website: www.oceanomics.eu

OCEANOMICS aims to promote the rational and durable exploitation in France of a highly relevant ecosystem in terms of both global ecological change and bioresources: the oceanic plankton. The task is not simple because the relatively dilute biomass of planktonic ecosystems is still extremely poorly characterized in terms of biodiversity and potential for biotechnology.

The marine planktonic realm comprises >98% of our biosphere and France possesses 8% of the world’s marine Exclusive Economic Zone (second in area only to the US). Planktonic ecosystems contain a phenomenal reservoir of life: between 10 and 100 billion organisms inhabit every liter of oceanic water, including viruses, prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes (protists), and metazoans. The extreme turnover rates and complex biotic interactions that characterize planktonic make these ecosystems a huge resource of life and unexplored bioactive compounds.

In its exploratory side, OCEANOMICs will rely on samples from the public/private scientific expedition Tara-Oceans (2009-2012). The schooner Tara, equipped with innovative systems for sampling of 11 organismal size-ranges covering entire planktonic communities from viruses to animals, have collected samples from 150 sites across the world oceans from 3 depths. OCEANOMICS proposes to develop original very-high throughput sequencing and imaging protocols to generate high-quality morpho-genetic data at several systemic levels (genomes, genes, organisms, ecosystem). Thus, comparisons to known references enable to discover of a dramatic number of novel genes, morphologies, and taxa from global plankton, and unveil the metabolomes, organismic interaction networks, and phenotypic features linked to environmental conditions and ecosystem outputs, leading to the discovery of emergent ecological principles.

In parallel, OCEANOMICs aims to transfer the acquired knowledge and technology to our private sector partners (ILLLUMINA, ALTRAN, VEOLIA, GREENTECH, SOLIANCE,) to (i) biomonitor the waters, (ii) phenotype plankton samples and strains for their lipid, secondary metabolites, and exometabolome contents, and (iii) screen selected cultivable strains for bioactive compounds relevant to pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, aquaculture, cosmetic, agricultural and environmental sectors.

Using OCEANOMICs as a case study, a team with strong expertise in legal and ethical issues will also define an equitable model for oceanic bio- prospection.