By Heather Kowalski

J. Robert Beyster and Life Technologies 2009-2010 Research Voyage Launch

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders (right); Dr. J. Robert Beyster; Greg Lucier, CEO, Life Technologies (left); Bob Kelly, President and CEO, San Diego Foundation (next to Lucier); and other representatives from the Beyster Family, San Diego Foundation and Life Technologies joined local collaborators, JCVI staff and friends to bid bon voyage to expedition leader, J. Craig Venter, PhD (center), and his sailing/scientific crew.

After two years of intensive sampling in the waters off California and the west coast of the United States, the Sorcerer II Expedition embarked once again on March 21, 2009. Our destination: the Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas. Funded by generous donations from the Beyster Family Foundation Fund of The San Diego Foundation and Life Technologies Corporation, the Sorcerer II Expedition will continue the metagenomic study of the microbiota living at or near the ocean’s surface (mostly marine) water samples are analyzed.

The successful 2003-2005 global circumnavigation has resulted in the discovery of more than 20 million new genes to date. The team and its supporters are eager to see what microbial DNA secrets these relatively isolated European seas may hold.

The team set sail under sunny, clear skies and cool breezes despite reports of a possible off shore gale. They soon encountered somewhat rough seas but that did not deter onboard crew scientist, Jeff McQuaid, from his water sampling duties. As in previous expeditions, water is collected every 200-300 nautical miles to gather organisms for sequencing and analysis.  Not necessarily the easiest job on stormy waters!