Friday 2 August 2013

Microbial diversity

The tree of life is dominated by microbes, but many large branches remain uncharted because scientists have been historically restricted to studying the small fraction of species that will grow in a lab, according to the Scientist.

An international team of scientists has now begun to redress this bias, sequencing full genomes from single cells to bring the “uncultured majority” into view. In total, the team identified more than 200 new microbial species belonging to 29 underrepresented or unknown lineages. By sequencing DNA directly from environmental samples, geneticists have suggested that the two microbial domains of life—bacteria and archaea—include at least 60 major lineages (phyla), but just four of these account for more than 88 percent of cultivated microbes.

For further details, refer to the following paper:

C. Rinke et al., “Insights into the phylogeny and coding potential of microbial dark matter,” Nature, doi:10.1038/nature12352, 2013

Posted by Tim Sandle

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