Tara Microbiome/CEODOS Chile mission successfully completes half of its journey through Chile

Tara Microbiome/CEODOS Chile mission successfully completes half of its journey through Chile

In its third national stopover, the scientific sailing ship Tara called at the port of Talcahuano on Wednesday, April 7, thus initiating the Tara Microbiome/ CEODOS Chile mission in the Biobío Region. The scientific work of the mission will be led by researchers from the Department of Oceanography of the Universidad de Concepción and the Research Centers of Excellence, COPAS Sur-Austral and INCAR.

The Biobío Region, oceanographic pole par excellence, will become during the next few days the focus of research of the scientific sailing ship Tara, which is already in Talcahuano, third stop of the Tara Microbiome/CEODOS Chile Mission. The mission of TARA CEODOS Chile is to conduct a comprehensive sampling of the Chilean coast, from Antarctica to Iquique, in order to better understand the impact of climate change, contributing to Chile’s ability to adapt to it and mitigate its effects.

This mission is focused on studying ocean microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, as well as some crustaceans, emerging contaminants such as microplastics, pathogens, trace metals in the ocean and the behavior of greenhouse gases in continuum, among many other things. This is a long-term initiative that seeks to monitor the Chilean ocean every five years and thus follow its transition to the new normal that global change brings, and during the stopovers, experiments will be carried out that complement the questions that TARA is asking the ocean.

“We will evaluate the intensity with which the biological pump is working using stable isotopes to measure photosynthesis in the water, photosynthetic yield (how healthy the phytoplankton is) and we will evaluate the diversity of the microbiome during the process of pumping CO2 from the atmosphere. We will try to do this at each scale in laboratories associated to our CEODOS initiative, in this particular one with the COPAS Sur-Austral and INCAR centers” explains Dr. Camila Fernández, visiting professor of the Department of Oceanography of the Universidad de Concepción, researcher of the CNRS and of the INCAR, IDEAL and COPAS SUR AUSTRAL centers, and co-coordinator of the mission in Chile.

The expedition has the virtue of bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers with the same objective, ranging from sampling to data analysis. “There are many possible directions, but one that seems relevant to me is to have very complete information on the genomic and environmental aspects of coastal gradients in pristine areas and closer to humans. We will have data that, together with the current knowledge, can shed light or provide a starting point to understand how the plankton microbe is structured in these changing conditions. This information over time can generate quantitative or semi-quantitative relationships that relate the composition of this microbiome to changes in the environment,” says Alejandro Maass, director of the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) at the Universidad de Chile and co-coordinator of the mission in Chile.

“The CEODOS Chile mission will provide a unique latitudinal perspective on the microbiome biodiversity of carbon fluxes along the Chilean coast. The opportunities for synergy through national and international scientific collaboration are extraordinary. Our center’s team will be dedicated to the stimulation of aerobic and anaerobic respiration of microplankton, which is a crucial flux to understand the biological pump,” explained INCAR Center Director, Dr. Renato Quiñones.

“This opportunity is particularly valuable in the Chilean sea since, due to the length of the coast, it is composed of different environments (the desert environment of the northern Chilean coast versus the contribution of fresh water to the fjords by melting glaciers of the Northern Ice Fields and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields), reason that motivated us to join this initiative”, explains the Director of the COPAS South-Austral Center, Dr. Silvio Pantoja, who adds that in the expedition they will contribute with the oceanographic and climatic dimension to the genomic mapping objectives.

“The knowledge provided by the expedition will allow scientists to generate recommendations, and these will be a very valuable input to evaluate future actions in public policies. Science is an important part of decision-making, where we must also consider the social, environmental and other aspects; and given that we face serious threats, such as climate change, and our economic sector depends heavily on natural resources, we need to know their current state in order to better prepare ourselves for these new challenges,” said the Seremi (Regional ministerial Secretary) of Science and Technology of the Central-South Macrozone, Paulina Assmann.

“This mission is our first logistical platform to carry out our long-term monitoring. We have the support of the government through the Ministry of Science and Foreign Affairs and CEODOS is going in the same direction as the climate change observatory. Our aspiration is that the ship Cabo de Hornos will accompany us in 5 more years”, adds Dr. Camila Fernández.

Among the activities programmed for this stopover are a series of talks to be held between Wednesday April 7 and Friday April 9 with students, which have been co-coordinated with the Explora PARs of the regions of Maule, Ñuble, Biobío and Araucanía, and a webinar for the general public to be held on Saturday 10, at 16:00 hours via Zoom. In both events, there will be the possibility to learn more about the mission, talk with the team of scientists and take a virtual tour of the schooner.

The schooner will remain in Talcahuano until Sunday, April 11, and then set sail for the city of Valparaíso, port where it will arrive on April 21.

The interdisciplinary study involves 9 research centers of excellence in our country: Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of Universidad de Chile, Center for Climate Science and Resilience (CR2), Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL), Center for Research in Patagonian Ecosystems (CIEP), Center for Oceanographic Research (COPAS Sur-Austral), Center for Genome Regulation (CRG), Interdisciplinary Center for Aquaculture Research (INCAR), the International Associated Laboratory “Multiscale Adaptive Strategies” (LIA MAST), and the French Institute for Research in Science and Digital Technologies (INRIA-Chile).


Registration Form for the Webinar on Saturday, April 10, 4:00 pm.


For more information follow Tara-Océan and Ceodos Chile on their social networks.


Tara Ocean Foundation:  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter
CEODOS Chile:  Facebook    Instagram    Twitter

Press contacts

Edgardo Vera (INCAR) edveracardenas@gmail.com
Camille Lextray (Fundación Tara Ocean) camille@fondationtaraocean.org

Posted on Apr 8, 2021 in News