Tara Pacific expedition: first scientific results published

  • Research
Published on June 2, 2023 Updated on July 4, 2023

on the June 2, 2023

Tara Pacific - La goélette Tara
Tara Pacific - La goélette Tara ©Francis Latreille – Fondation Tara Ocean

The schooner Tara Pacific sailed throughout the Pacific Ocean for over two years with the main objective of studying the complexity of reef-building coral. The first scientific results were published in several Springer Nature journals on June 1, providing an insight into the health and biodiversity of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers from Université Côte d'Azur contributed to the publication of these papers.

The main goal of the Tara Pacific expedition initiated by the Tara Ocean Foundation and its international scientific partners was to study the complexity of reef-building corals throughout the Pacific using a broad approach focusing on multiple levels (omics, genomics, telomeres, stress markers, environment, etc.) and multiple species (including corals with very different longevities, from several decades to hundreds of years). No similar integrated and holistic study comparing coral biology at such a high resolution and broad ecological scale has been attempted before, which makes this study unique.

More than 100 scientists from 23 institutes in eight countries have been involved in the project. The Tara schooner embarked on a two-and-a-half-year expedition (2016-2018) to collect samples from over thirty island systems. The results of the expedition are presented in a collection of eight articles published in several Springer Nature journals.

Major participation of Université Côte d'Azur researchers

The articles are all signed by Eric Gilson, Paola Furla and Didier Forcioli, who coordinated the scientific aspects of the Tara Pacific expedition as part of their research at the IRCAN Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging in Nice (under the leadership of Eric Gilson and Eric Rottinger). Eric Gilson, Paola Furla and Eric Rottinger were involved in the sampling on board Tara. In this first series of articles, Eric Gilson coordinated a study on the dynamics of coral telomeres as a function of their environment and longevity, revealing new mechanisms associating environment and aging (Rouan et al, Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 1;14(1):3038).

Université Côte d'Azur through the Labex Signalife and the UCAjedi Initiative of Excellence (in particular the Center for Modeling, Simulation and Interactions (MSI)) has contributed many of the human resources needed to complete this research. 

The researchers have also benefited from fruitful collaborations with the Monaco Scientific Center and the Villefranche marine station. This fine achievement is a perfect illustration of the vitality of the local marine scientific community that includes the Associated International Laboratory ROPSE - Response of organisms and populations to environmental stress (Université Côte d'Azur/CSM), the Federative Research Institute for Marine Resources (MARRES) (Université Côte d'Azur) and our partner Villefranche-sur-Mer Marine Institute (Sorbonne Université).