Integrative 3D imaging: From coral reefs to single cells

The Moon has been visited many times by mankind while the Marianna Trench has been seen once. Our wishes to understand the complexity of the biological world remains at the surface. Since many years our gathering of biological data has been limited to a handful of model systems often biased by the way they are grown or even imaged. But nowadays, mobile phone technology and newly established 3D imaging techniques allows us to step out of the laboratory to look at the biological world as it is. Through scientific expeditions (e.g. Tara Oceans 2009-2012) and collaborations we have been going into the wild to record underwater coral reefs and integrate the collected data at different scales from the reef to the museum and back. This unique approach allows us to also establish online automated taxonomical systems to collect scientific data without collecting and fixing organism using statistical deformations models that could become reference 3D models in research laboratories and database such as GenBank. Furthermore we can 3D print the models creating a Digital Ocean that can be replicated anywhere in an effort to preserve the largest biotope on Earth but also to give the opportunity to bench-bound scientists to explore the third dimension in its full.