Collection |

The Living Ocean

The Earth’s oceans are shaped by the organisms that live in them as well as the interactions between these organisms and their broader environment. These interactions are increasingly influenced by human activities, although efforts are underway to mitigate these impacts. This collection looks at biological processes in the oceans, the interplay between geochemistry and biology, how the marine environment has evolved through time, and what the future holds for our living oceans.


  • Nature | Comment

    Maintaining momentum is crucial as nations build a treaty to safeguard the high seas, argue Glen Wright, Julien Rochette, Kristina M. Gjerde and Lisa A. Levin.

    • Glen Wright
    • , Julien Rochette
    • , Kristina M. Gjerde
    •  &  Lisa A. Levin
  • Nature Geoscience | Comment

    The exploration of ocean worlds in the outer Solar System offers the opportunity to search for an independent origin of life, and also to advance our capabilities for exploring and understanding life in Earth’s oceans.

    • Kevin Peter Hand
    •  &  Christopher R. German
  • Nature Human Behaviour | Comment

    Plastic pollution is caused exclusively by humans. It poses growing global threats to both the ocean and society, and requires urgent action. Using psychological principles can motivate and implement change by connecting symptoms and sources.

    • Sabine Pahl
    • , Kayleigh J. Wyles
    •  &  Richard C. Thompson
  • Nature Climate Change | News & Views

    Ocean uptake of CO2 slows the rate of anthropogenic climate change but comes at the cost of ocean acidification. Observations now show that the seasonal cycle of CO2 in the ocean also changes, leading to earlier occurrence of detrimental conditions for ocean biota.

    • Judith Hauck
  • Nature | News Feature

    As the United Nations prepares a historic treaty to protect the oceans, scientists highlight what’s needed for success.

    • Olive Heffernan


  • Nature Reviews Microbiology | Review Article

    Coral reefs are complex ecosystems that are populated by diverse microorganisms. In this Review, Vega Thurber et al. summarize the diversity of reef viruses that infect corals and their associated microbiota, and highlight their roles in coral disease and reef decline.

    • Rebecca Vega Thurber
    • , Jérôme P. Payet
    • , Andrew R. Thurber
    •  &  Adrienne M. S. Correa
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution | Review Article

    Incorporating marine biomes into the planetary boundaries framework promotes integrated understanding of biophysical limits and earth system governance.

    • Kirsty L. Nash
    • , Christopher Cvitanovic
    • , Elizabeth A. Fulton
    • , Benjamin S. Halpern
    • , E. J. Milner-Gulland
    • , Reg A. Watson
    •  &  Julia L. Blanchard
  • Nature Geoscience | Review Article

    Size, morphology, silica content and life cycle of diatoms affect their contribution to the export of carbon to the deep ocean, suggests a literature review.

    • Paul Tréguer
    • , Chris Bowler
    • , Brivaela Moriceau
    • , Stephanie Dutkiewicz
    • , Marion Gehlen
    • , Olivier Aumont
    • , Lucie Bittner
    • , Richard Dugdale
    • , Zoe Finkel
    • , Daniele Iudicone
    • , Oliver Jahn
    • , Lionel Guidi
    • , Marine Lasbleiz
    • , Karine Leblanc
    • , Marina Levy
    •  &  Philippe Pondaven
  • Nature Microbiology | Review Article

    This Review Article discusses the role of bacteriophages in the marine environment, including interactions with their bacterial hosts and their impact on biogeochemical cycling, and a hypothesis to explain successional host–phage dynamics in marine systems.

    • Mya Breitbart
    • , Chelsea Bonnain
    • , Kema Malki
    •  &  Natalie A. Sawaya
  • Nature Communications | Review Article | open

    Metal dissolution from atmospheric aerosol deposition plays an important role in enhancing and inhibiting phytoplankton growth and community structure. Here, the authors review the impacts of trace metal leaching from natural and anthropogenic aerosols on marine microorganisms over short and long timescales.

    • Natalie M. Mahowald
    • , Douglas S. Hamilton
    • , Katherine R. M. Mackey
    • , J. Keith Moore
    • , Alex R. Baker
    • , Rachel A. Scanza
    •  &  Yan Zhang


  • Nature | Letter

    There has been about a forty per cent reduction in the transport of carbonate ions to the deep North Atlantic Ocean since preindustrial times, severely endangering cold-water corals.

    • Fiz F. Perez
    • , Marcos Fontela
    • , Maribel I. García-Ibáñez
    • , Herlé Mercier
    • , Anton Velo
    • , Pascale Lherminier
    • , Patricia Zunino
    • , Mercedes de la Paz
    • , Fernando Alonso-Pérez
    • , Elisa F. Guallart
    •  &  Xose A. Padin
  • Nature Microbiology | Letter

    Using transcriptome data from marine subsurface sediments, expressed microbial enzymes are shown to be potential targets for secretion by Bacteria, Archaea and Fungi, providing insights into nutrient cycling in the subsurface environment.

    • William D. Orsi
    • , Thomas A. Richards
    •  &  Warren R. Francis
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The effects of biological similarity on geochemical signals recorded in planktonic foraminiferal tests used in paleo-reconstructions remains unclear. Here, the authors embed species-specific vital effect offsets in evolutionary models and show how shared evolutionary history shapes δ13C, but not δ18O values.

    • Kirsty M. Edgar
    • , Pincelli M. Hull
    •  &  Thomas H. G. Ezard
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution | Article

    Latitudinal differences in the global distribution of pelagic and demersal teleost fish predators can be explained by the relative inflow of energy at the base of each food chain.

    • P. Daniël van Denderen
    • , Martin Lindegren
    • , Brian R. MacKenzie
    • , Reg A. Watson
    •  &  Ken H. Andersen
  • Nature Climate Change | Letter

    Marine protected areas aim to conserve biodiversity and habitat. However continued high emissions causing changes in sea-surface temperatures and oxygen levels are likely to disrupt many ecosystems protected by MPAs.

    • John F. Bruno
    • , Amanda E. Bates
    • , Chris Cacciapaglia
    • , Elizabeth P. Pike
    • , Steven C. Amstrup
    • , Ruben van Hooidonk
    • , Stephanie A. Henson
    •  &  Richard B. Aronson
  • Nature Microbiology | Letter

    Infection of the alga Emiliania huxleyi with its virus EhV results in the increased release of extracellular vesicles that impact viral decay and infection, suggesting that EhV exploits these extracellular vesicles for efficient viral infection during algal blooms.

    • Daniella Schatz
    • , Shilo Rosenwasser
    • , Sergey Malitsky
    • , Sharon G. Wolf
    • , Ester Feldmesser
    •  &  Assaf Vardi


  • Nature | Letter

    Laboratory experiments with the brine shrimp Artemia salina illustrate the potential for turbulence generated by the diurnal vertical migrations of aggregations of centimetre-scale zooplankton to affect the physical and biogeochemical structure of oceanic water columns.

    • Isabel A. Houghton
    • , Jeffrey R. Koseff
    • , Stephen G. Monismith
    •  &  John O. Dabiri
  • Nature Ecology & Evolution | Article

    Combining data on sea-surface chlorophyll-a with a regional ocean model and diatom abundance from sediment grabs, the authors determine the strength of pelagic–benthic coupling across the George V region in East Antarctica.

    • Jan Jansen
    • , Nicole A. Hill
    • , Piers K. Dunstan
    • , John McKinlay
    • , Michael D. Sumner
    • , Alexandra L. Post
    • , Marc P. Eléaume
    • , Leanne K. Armand
    • , Jonathan P. Warnock
    • , Benjamin K. Galton-Fenzi
    •  &  Craig R. Johnson
  • Nature Climate Change | Article

    The ocean is a key part of the climate system but is often neglected in individual country priorities. Analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions reveals 70% include marine issues. The level of inclusion varies dependent on country factors including vulnerability to rising seas.

    • Natalya D. Gallo
    • , David G. Victor
    •  &  Lisa A. Levin
  • Nature Reviews Microbiology | Review Article

    Protists are an important part of the marine food web. In this Review, Caron et al. summarize recent insights from transcriptomic studies of cultured and free-living protists and discuss how these findings highlight the functions and interactions of these single-celled eukaryotes in the global oceans.

    • David A. Caron
    • , Harriet Alexander
    • , Andrew E. Allen
    • , John M. Archibald
    • , E. Virginia Armbrust
    • , Charles Bachy
    • , Callum J. Bell
    • , Arvind Bharti
    • , Sonya T. Dyhrman
    • , Stephanie M. Guida
    • , Karla B. Heidelberg
    • , Jonathan Z. Kaye
    • , Julia Metzner
    • , Sarah R. Smith
    •  &  Alexandra Z. Worden
  • Nature Geoscience | Article

    The Great Barrier Reef has migrated rapidly in response to sea-level changes since the last glacial period, suggesting resilience to environmental stress over this interval, according to a reconstruction of reef accretion.

    • Jody M. Webster
    • , Juan Carlos Braga
    • , Marc Humblet
    • , Donald C. Potts
    • , Yasufumi Iryu
    • , Yusuke Yokoyama
    • , Kazuhiko Fujita
    • , Raphael Bourillot
    • , Tezer M. Esat
    • , Stewart Fallon
    • , William G. Thompson
    • , Alexander L. Thomas
    • , Hironobu Kan
    • , Helen V. McGregor
    • , Gustavo Hinestrosa
    • , Stephen P. Obrochta
    •  &  Bryan C. Lougheed