During a three year expedition that was aimed to uncover the secrets lying in the depths of the oceans, a group of scientists has discovered 35.000 species of bacteria, 5.000 new viruses and 150.000 single celled plants and creatures.
The secrets of aquatic life unfold in front of our very eyes, sharing precious information about the evolution of life. Planktonic organisms are almost insignificant in size, most of the times hidden to the naked eye. Even so, together they make up 90% of the mass of all marine life in oceans.
Plankton forms the base of food chain, they survive through photosynthesis and produce half of the oxygen we breathe. The results of the expedition unveiled everything that hasn’t been known by now about the microscopic life of oceans. First of all, they all look fascinating and secondly, their diversity speaks tons about the possibilities of life and its mysteries.
Everything discovered is now set to be analyzed. The analysis process has already started once the expedition ended, and scientists have found out new information about 579 of the 35.000 samples collected, presenting the results in five scientific papers.
There have been found no less than 5.000 virus communities and out of those, only 39 were known before. In the case of protists, the unicellular organisms, scientists have found something similar to 150.000 different taxa.
Deep life of oceans covers no less than 11.000 formally described species of plankton and scientists have just managed to gather evidence for 10 times more organisms.
However, this is just the beginning of the study. The 35.000 microbes that let themselves be found revealed many new genes. 80% of the genes discovered by now by scientists are thought to be very new to science.
The richness in new information also allows scientists to analyze the way in which plankton communities are organized, along with their general behavior.
Researchers have found that bacteria are very sensitive to temperature. This is a very insightful piece of information, as it unveils the perils of global warming, hence the hardened life conditions for certain species of bacteria.
Every new finding in the plankton field is available for free to the scientific communities across the world, and this happens because the team of researchers that initiated the project needs to gain a better understanding of the vital and unseen underwater world.
This very expedition generated one of the largest DNA databases available to the scientific world. By now, only 2% of the total amount has been researched, with news to be coming again, as soon as the team of scientists unveils some more insights on the way microorganisms live, organize, feed and multiply in an environment so little known by us, humans.
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