Genomic evidence for global ocean plankton biogeography shaped by large-scale current systems.
Biogeographical studies have traditionally focused on readily visible organisms, but recent technological advances are enabling analyses of the large-scale distribution of microscopic organisms, whose biogeographical patterns have long been debated. Here we assessed the global structure of plankton geography and its relation to the biological, chemical, and physical context of the ocean (the 'seascape') by analyzing metagenomes of plankton communities sampled across oceans during the Oceans expedition, in light of environmental data and ocean current transport. Using a consistent approach across organismal sizes that provides unprecedented resolution to measure changes in genomic composition between communities, we report a pan-ocean, size-dependent plankton biogeography overlying regional heterogeneity. We found robust evidence for a basin-scale impact of transport by ocean currents on plankton biogeography, and on a characteristic timescale of community dynamics going beyond simple seasonality or life history transitions of plankton.