Deep-Sea Ecosystems research unit

The Deep-sea Ecosystems (Étude des Écosystèmes Profonds — EEP) research unit seeks to describe and understand the composition, structure and functioning of various deep-sea ecosystems using integrated, multi-disciplinary approaches and focuses on all faunal and microbial compartments, from molecules to populations.

Its research addresses chemosynthetic-based ecosystems such as hydrothermal vents on ocean ridges or cold seeps on active or passive continental margins as well as deep-sea environments with detritus-based food webs (abyssal plains, polymetallic nodule fields).


The Deep-sea Ecosystems unit is located in Brest and is composed of two research laboratories:

  • Deep-sea environment laboratory (Environnement profond — LEP): The objective of this laboratory is to study the structure, functioning and the temporal dynamics of deep-sea ecosystems in different types of ecosystems distributed across the seafloor in various geological (deep-sea fans, continental shelves, ocean ridges), hydrodynamic and trophic settings.
  • Microbiology of Extreme Environments laboratory (Microbiologie des environnements extrêmes — LM2E) : This laboratory is a joint research unit with CNRS, IFREMER and the University of Western Brittany. It actively participates in studies that aim to understand how microorganisms contribute to the functioning of these extreme ecosystems and how they maintain the integrity of their genetic material.


The research conducted at the Deep-sea Ecosystems unit aims to

  • develop and carry out multi-disciplinary research to describe and understand the composition, structure and functioning of ecosystems in deep-sea environments,
  • characterise the properties of proteins of interest based on genome analysis,
  • participate in the international effort to explore these deep-sea ecosystems,
  • develop new study methods as well as innovative instruments adapted to the exploration and characterisation of the deep seabed,
  • enhance the expertise of the staff on environmental issues related to human-induced impacts and propose strategies for the sustainable management of these ecosystems.

The disciplines required for this research are highly varied and draw on three major fields: biology (microbiology, zoology, taxonomy, molecular biology, biochemistry, ecology), environmental sciences (physics, chemistry) and engineering sciences.