Observers of marine life – from individuals to international programmes – are rapidly augmenting their ability to assess biodiversity with molecular methods. Approaches such as environmental DNA analyses, metabarcoding, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metabolomics contribute to a “multi-omic” understanding the living ocean. Simultaneously, several Essential Ocean Variables being developed under the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and Essential Biodiversity Variables from the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), are exploring omics technologies in operational contexts. Over the past decade, basin-scale omic sampling campaigns have tested the practicality and value of omic observing across the ocean value chain. With this momentum, consortia such as the Genomic Observatories Network and the Global Omics Observation Network are aligning activities, supported by groups such as the Genomic Standards Consortium. These groups are pursuing international sample exchanges, calibration activities, standards and best practice development, data harmonisation and the creation of sustained links to key data infrastructures such as Europe’s ELIXIR, IOC-UNESCO’s Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
The PacMAN project is contributing to a sustained, community-driven process to mainstream molecular methods in ocean observing in close collaboration with GOOS.