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Researchers glimpse microbial 'dark matter'

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An emerging technique for analysing genomes has given scientists a look at microbes that were until now difficult to study, revealing unexpected links among different branches of the tree of life.

Led by Tanja Woyke, a microbiologist at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, researchers used single-cell sequencing to read the genomes of 201 bacterial and archaeal cells taken from nine diverse environments, such as hydrothermal vents and an underground gold mine. None of the organisms had ever been sequenced or cultivated in a laboratory. The results are published today in Nature.

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