Colomban de Vargas


Station Biologique de Roscoff

Colomban de Vargas

Research Director

Bio sketch

Research Director at the CNRS France, and leader of the EPEP Evolution of Pelagic Ecosystems & Protists – team at the Station Biologique de Roscoff, Colomban de Vargas has co-authored >80 scientific publications around his main research interest: How rich and diverse is plankton life, and how has plankton life evolved, and transformed/stabilized the Earth system? Along his 20-years long scientific career from Tahiti (MSc, 1995) to Switzerland (PhD, 2000), USA (PostDoc at Harvard and Assistant Professorship at Rutgers), and France, Colomban has supervised >15 PhD students and postdocs, and coordinated major research programs on marine plankton (paleo)ecology (e.g. BioMarKs, 2009-2012, He pioneered the use of combined genetic, morphological, and geological data to assess rates and modes of biodiversity change in planktonic unicellular eukaryotes or protists on various ecological to geological time scales. Since 2008, he coordinated the ‘biodiversity’ and ‘protist’ components of the Tara Oceans expeditions (, exploring the networks and dynamics of modern plankton eco-systems using high-throughput DNA sequencing and imaging technologies. Until 2020, Colomban will coordinate the program OCEANOMICS (wOrld oCEANs biOressources, biotechnologies, and Earth-systeM servICeS,, aiming at analyzing and transferring to the society the complex eco-morpho-genetic datasets collected during Tara Oceans. He is also organizing an international fleet of volunteer sailing boats -the planktonauts-, that will collect plankton samples on relevant spatial and temporal scales, promote a novel citizen-enabled and sailing oceanography, and take the pulse of our oceans biodiversity and health in our fast changing world.

Selected publications:

(complete listing@

  • De Vargas C, Audic S, Henry N, Decelle J, Mahe F, …., Wincker P, Karsenti E. (2015). Eukaryotic plankton diversity in the sunlit global ocean. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261605


  • Sunagawa, Coelho, Chaffron, et al. (2015). Structure and Function of the Global Ocean Microbiome. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261359


  • Brum, Ignacio-Espinosa, Roux et al. (2015). Global patterns and ecological drivers of ocean viral communities.  Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261498


  • Lima-Mendez, Faust, Henry, …, de Vargas C, Raes J. (2015). Top-down determinants of community structure in the global plankton interactome. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1262073


  • Villar, Farrant, Follows et al. (2015). Environmental characteristics of Agulhas rings affect inter-ocean plankton transport. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261447


  • Pawlowski J, Audic S, Adl S, … , Schindel, D., de Vargas, C. (2012) CBOL Protist Working Group: barcoding eukaryotic richness beyond the animal, plant, and fungal kingdoms. PLoS Biology 10(11): e1001419. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001419


  • Karsenti, E., Acinas, S.G., Bork, P., Bowler, C., de Vargas, C., … , Weissenbach, J., Wincker, P., the Tara Oceans, C. (2011). A Holistic Approach to Marine Eco-Systems Biology. PLoS Biology 9, e1001177.


  • Beaufort, L., Bendif, E.M., de Garidel-Thoron, T., …, I., Rickaby, R. E. M., and de Vargas, C., (2011). Sensitivity of coccolithophores to carbonate chemistry and ocean acidification. Nature. 476, 80-83. doi:10.1038/nature10295.


  • Falkowski P and de Vargas C. (2004). Shotgun sequencing in the Sea: a blast from the Past? Science 304: 58-60.


  • Norris R & de Vargas C. (2000). Evolution all at sea. Nature 405:23-24.


  • de Vargas C, Norris R, Zaninetti L, Gibb SW & Pawlowski J. (1999). Molecular evidence of cryptic speciation in planktonic foraminifera and their relation to oceanic provinces. PNAS , USA. 96:2864-286
Selected public outreach: