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Resourceful Microbes Reign in World’s Oceans

A research team led by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has discovered that marine microbes are adapted to very narrow and specialized niches in their environment. This may explain why so few of these microbes—usually less than 1%—can be grown for study in the laboratory. By utilizing new genetic tools, the researchers’ new ability to read and interpret genetic information from the remaining 99% will be pivotal in detecting and mitigating the impact of human activities in the ocean. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America this week.

The cutting-edge technology that proved critical to the research, and was implemented on a large scale for the first time, is called single cell genomics.

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