Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ocean Expedition Unearths 6 Million New Genes

More than six million new genes have been found by an ocean expedition that is part of a broader effort to enlist some of the smallest creatures on the planet to renew the atmosphere to combat climate change.

The US Department of Energy has assembled experts to examine how to read the entire genetic codes - genomes - of microbes and thousands of other creatures that deal with pollution and the see if there is a way to harness them or their clever chemistry in clean-ups or even design one from scratch.

Today, in the journal PloS Biology, researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute, JCVI, (TUE) announces the publication of several studies of the from the Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition (GOS) to use new methods to read the genetic codes of marine microbes, detailing the discovery of millions of new genes after it voyaged thousands of miles.

The group analysed 7.7 million DNA sequences consisting of 6.3 billion “letters” of genetic code in all using new computing methods.
The adventure Craig Venter went on to collect all of those genes sounded like a lot of fun and led to my favorite documentary of all time.

via Telegraph

Update: Craig Venter was on the News Hour and added some additional information. I thought this nugget was particularly interesting:
In fact, we found such incredible diversity, unexpected from almost any type of study. Every 200 miles, 85 percent of the organisms and sequences were unique to that region.

So instead of this homogeneous primordial soup, it's millions of microenvironments, like miniature multi-cellular organisms involving the chemistry of the moment of that site.

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