Uncovering hidden worlds of ocean biodiversity

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 865-867
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa7378

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A bewildering swirl of tiny creatures dominates life in the oceans. More numerous than the stars in the universe, these organisms serve as the foundation of all marine food webs, recycling major elements and producing and consuming about half the organic matter generated on Earth each year (1). In this issue, five research articles from the Tara Oceans expedition (26) provide a vivid, potentially transformative view of the genetic diversity and interconnectivity of these unseen marine communities of viruses, bacteria, archaea, single-celled eukaryotes, and small planktonic animals (see the figure). Together, these studies deliver compelling evidence for extensive networks of previously hidden biological interactions in the sea.