Oceans teeming with 10 million kinds of microbe

By | August 1, 2006

Oceans teeming with 10 million kinds of microbe

The diversity of microbes living in the world’s oceans may be more than 100 times greater than previously estimated, according to a survey of marine life.

Scientists working in marine sites around the world, including several North Atlantic sites between Greenland and Iceland, were astonished to find that they had massively underestimated the diversity of single-cell organisms that, despite being invisible to the naked eye, make up 98 per cent of all life in the oceans.

An international team of marine biologists carried out the study with the help of DNA probes which can quickly distinguish between thousands of life forms in a single glass of seawater.

Only 5,000 marine microbes have been named and formally described by scientists, but the true number of bacterial species living in the ocean could be between five and ten million, said Mitchell Sogin, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts. – independent

One theory says that the Earth is constantly being bombarded by microbes from outer space. Do space microbes contribute to the diversity in our oceans?

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