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Studying the microbiome and its adaptation in highly dynamic structures in the Southern ocean


Remi Laxenaire in South Georgia (©Remi Laxenaire & Fondation Tara Ocean)

In episode 29 of the podcast, we are back to discovering another amazing region of the Atlantic as lived and studied by those who embarked on the Tara schooner during Mission Microbiomes, one of AtlantECO’s flagship expeditions. And this time we are talking to Remi Laxenaire, who was chief scientist on board as the crew crossed the Atlantic from Punta Arenas in Chile to Cape Town in South Africa. Remi is a physical oceanographer who works with the CNRS at the Ecole Normale Superieure (LMD), in France, and the LACy of the University of the Reunion Island, and he spent 2 months on board of Tara to study the Southern Ocean.


Tara viewed from the top (©Paula Huber & Fondation Tara Ocean)

The Southern Ocean forms a boundary between the Atlantic ocean and Antarctica, and there Remi and the team studied dynamical structures, eddies, a type of water mass which is different from its surrounding environment and that structure rotates. They tried to understand if the communities of organisms that are isolated in those structures are different from those in the environment. In addition, they were interested to look at the front, the connection between the two water masses, that of the eddy and that of the surrounding environment, because there is a very high dynamism there with vertical motion that impacts the water mass and therefore the organisms within it, the question there is to know whether the microbiome living there can adapt to those rapidly evolving conditions. There were able to locate and sample in eddies, and once all the samples are analysed we will be able to learn more about all these aspects.


Memories from South Georgia (©Remi Laxenaire & Fondation Tara Ocean)

As with each leg of the Mission Microbiomes, this one was dedicated to an amazing woman who contributed to sciences, and this time it is Emmy Noether, a German mathematician who managed to impress Einstein with her mathematical theorems. She had an incredible life so make sure to check out her story!


Remi tells us about his time on board with his boatmates as he calls them, sharing unforgettable moments between moments of work and the general life on Tara. He also shares his experience of South Georgia, where together with the crew they were able to spend a few days and see amazing sceneries and wildlife.


Listen to the full episode to learn more about the Southern Ocean and about what and how we studied there as part of the AtlantECO project.




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