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Hydrothermal vents: Hot spots of microbial diversity
Date:10/4/2007

lysis. While other metagenomic studies look at all the genes in an environmental sample, such as a bucket of seawater or scoop of sediment, 454 tag sequencing examines one tiny, highly variable region of one gene that all microbes have (the 16s rRNA gene). It is much more efficient and cost effective than other environmental microbial survey tools.

The tremendous diversity we found using 454 tag sequencing suggests that even the largest metagenomic surveys--which capture only the most highly abundant taxa-- inadequately represent the full extent of microbial diversity, says MBL scientist David Mark Welch, one of Hubers co-authors. Even with tag sequencing, statistical tests of our data suggest we still only sampled about half of the total number of species that were actually present.

The new findings also underscore just how daunting understanding marine microbial diversity is. This research demonstrates that surveys of hundreds of thousands of sequences will be necessary to capture the vast diversity of microbial communities, and that different patterns in evenness for both high and low-abundance taxa may be important in defining microbial ecosystem dynamics, says Mitchell Sogin, director of the MBLs Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution.

This research is part of the ongoing International Census of Marine Microbes, a massive effort to inventory the worlds marine microbial diversity. It is also part of a major MBL initiative to study microbial ecology and evolution to understand how microbial communities are evolving in response to natural and human-induced environmental changes.


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Contact: Gina Hebert
ghebert@mbl.edu
508-289-7725
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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