This Swiss, “obsessed with exploration“, he dedicated himself to mapping oceanic plankton, this great “microbe soup” Composed of viruses, bacteria, protists, animals, etc. These “invisible forests”, sailing at the mercy of ocean currents, made the planet habitable, producing most of the oxygen we breathe, he details.
“Biodiversity is above all microbial. For 3 billion years, there was nothing but microbes“, points out the researcher. However, “it is not known what microbes we live with, nor how many there are on Earth”.
Taking advantage of the lessons of the “Tara Oceans” mission, which has already made 220 measurements of marine microorganisms, Colomban de Vargas and his fellow researchers want to establish a “cooperative, frugal, planetary and perennial measure” of this invisible ocean life.
Through the “Plankton Planet” project, the aim is to entrust, in the long term, economically accessible measuring instruments and sensors to the tens of thousands of sailboats, trade ships or goods transporters that ply the planet.
The objective is to understand “the adaptation of the living in the face of the brutal changes” imposed by human activities.
“But it is not obvious because it is necessary that the measure be homogeneous“, emphasizes Colomban de Vargas.