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Biological Sciences
Research Highlights

November 2017

PNNL and the ‘Microbiome of Everything’

MicrobiomeNature
Some data from the Nature paper.

If you want to catalog all the microbes on Earth, it will take a while. Bacteria alone may be 100 million times more numerous than stars in the universe. They may represent a trillion or more species.

Wildly ambitious and deeply important, the effort to catalog our planet's microbial environments in soil, water, and animals in a practical way has been under way since 2010. It's the crowd-sourced Earth Microbiome Project, co-founded by PNNL microbial ecologist Janet K. Jansson.

The project's first dataset - employing samples from every continent and calling on 500 or more international collaborators - just appeared in a Nov. 1 paper in Nature, "A communal catalogue reveals Earth's multiscale microbial diversity." Jansson is one of three co-senior authors. PNNL's Colin Brislawn gets a co-author credit.

The paper analyzes bacterial and archaeal metadata from a vast, ongoing effort to achieve what Jansson called "coordinated and cumulative sampling" of global microbial environments.

The new paper also introduces an analytical and protocol framework for a database ultimately designed to identify and compare microbes planet-wide.

For the PNNL news release and other coverage, visit our news site.


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