Understanding the impact of human activities on the biodiversity of European coastal ecosystems!
Discovering coastal ecosystems
Better understand the impact of pollutants on marine biodiversity.
Predict the impact of local and global climate change on the microbiome.
Inventory and map the micro-organisms present, define the interactions and the role of each species.
Discover new interactions and new species.
For two consecutive years, the schooner Tara is participating in the study of coastal ecosystems all along the European coast. The sampling of Tara Europa is part of the TREC expedition – Traversing
European Coastlines, conceived by EMBL in collaboration with the Tara OceanS consortium, the Tara Ocean Foundation and more than 70 scientific institutions. During this expedition, a parallel study of biodiversity on land, with EMBL’s mobile laboratories, and at sea, with the schooner Tara, is carried out.
An expedition to the land-sea interface
Europe’s coastlines are environments rich in biodiversity, industry, culture and heritage. 40% of Europe’s population lives in a coastal region. Our seas and coasts are home to an extremely rich diversity of life and play an essential role in the stability and sustainability of wider ecosystems.
25 520 kmalong the European coastline
19 payscountries crossed and sampled
17 countries where Tara will stop
40scientists on board
Professor Peer Bork, Director of EMBL Heidelberg and TREC coordinator
“We will explore the interactions between the two major ecosystems on our planet in order to better understand how these ecosystems interact, and how the organisms within them respond to natural and anthropogenic environmental changes.”
Beyond plastic pollution, which is visible and has been the focus of attention for more than a decade, human-made chemical pollution of rivers and coasts must be at the centre of our concerns, as it is likely to affect global and human health at a faster rate than climate change.
An unprecedented study on pollutants
Pollutants enter the environment through our consumption, particularly from industry, agriculture, homes and hospitals. The expedition’s researchers are looking at three categories of pollutants to understand the pollution gradients at the land-sea interface:
More than 4000 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in water resources. Degraded products are not taken into account in the studies of regulatory agencies. However, these products, even when degraded to by-products, can have an impact on ecosystems. For example, antibiotics pass through all sewage systems and trigger worrying pockets of antibiotic resistance in nature.
More than 1000 pesticides are being studied in the laboratory by EMBL in order to understand how pollutants are metabolised by bacteria and what their by-products are. Thanks to the field study conducted by TREC and Tara EUROPA, scientists will be able to validate their hypotheses and models.
During Tara EUROPA, two main families of plastifiers will be studied by scientists who will seek to isolate the bacteria capable of degrading these molecules. Seven laboratories will work together for the chemical profiling of these additives.
The accumulation of pharmaceuticals, pesticides and plastics in the environment is creating a growing threat to ecosystem and human health. Everything humans put into the environment comes back to them through the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat: the urgency is to understand the extent and impact on their health.
All aboard the schooner
The Tara Europa expedition is the at-sea part of the TREC programme led by EMBL. TREC brings together 150 researchers from more than 70 institutions in some 30 countries.
Colomban de Vargas
Scientific director of Tara Europa
Director of operations
Immerse in the expedition
The Tara Ocean Foundation news
An expedition to the heart of the biodiversity of the world of plankton.
Understanding the invisible life of the ocean