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99.999 Percent of the Microbes on Earth Unknown, Says Study

Image: 99.999 Percent of the Microbes on Earth Unknown, Says Study
 (Reuters)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 May 2016 06:21 AM

Some 99.999 percent of the microbes on the Earth are still undiscovered, about one trillion of them, according to a study that compared what scientists already know.

The study which appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday examined databases from numerous government, academic, and citizen science sources, said the Huffington Post.

"Using a global-scale compilation of microbial and macrobial data, we uncover relationships of commonness and rarity that scale with abundance at similar rates for microorganisms and macroscopic plants and animals," said the study.

The study's authors Jay Lennon and Kenneth Locey, of Indiana University, said their data represents more than 5.6 million microscopic and non-microscopic species from 35,000 locations from the world's oceans and continents, except for Antarctica.

"Estimating the number of species on Earth is among the great challenges in biology," Lennon said, according to the National Science Foundation, which helped fund the study. "Our study combines the largest available datasets with ecological models and new ecological rules for how biodiversity relates to abundance. This gave us a new and rigorous estimate for the number of microbial species on Earth."

Lennon said new genetic sequencing technology has only recently given researchers the ability to start estimating the number of microbes in the natural environment.

"This research offers a view of the extensive diversity of microbes on Earth," said Simon Malcomber, director of the Dimensions of Biodiversity program. "It also highlights how much of that diversity still remains to be discovered and described."

Locey told the website IFL Science that exploring Earth's microbes can be compared to man's space research.

"Just like mapping the Milky Way and other galaxies helps us understand and appreciate our place in the universe and its history, understanding the immense diversity of microbial life helps us understand and appreciate our place in the evolution of life on Earth." 

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Some 99.999 percent of the microbes on the Earth are still undiscovered, about one trillion of them, according to a study that compared what scientists already know.
99999, percent, microbes, unknown
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2016-21-04
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 06:21 AM
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