Recently the Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron (director of “Titanic”) reached in a custom made submarine the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, breaking a world record for the deepest solo dive. Deep-sea trenches have lured explorers for decades, tantalizing them with glimpses of an ecosystem shrouded in darkness.
Although Cameron’s journey to the abyss yielded little new scientific data, it whetted the public appetite for information about life in the otherworldly environments of deep-sea trenches.
An international group of marine scientists may soon provide a feast of such data, from the first major systematic study of a deep-sea trench. If all goes well the team will start exploring the South sea of New Zealand in a depth between 6.000 and 11.000 meters. A team around Timothy Shank from the Woods Hole Institution (WHI) inMassachusetts will systematically explore this complete unknown biotope with robots. An article about this program is published in the recent issue of Science.
New forms of life and deep insight into evolution are to be expected.
As a scuba diver I am excited to learn more about this fascinating biotope and I am sure that Next Generation sequencing technologies will significantly contribute to new chapters of the book of life.