Global effort to map microbes gets underway
Dutch and US scientists have commenced a 10-year, US $1 billion effort to catalogue all marine microbes -- the first-ever global endeavour. The ambitious project was jointly launched in December 2004 by scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole in the US and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.
Called the International Census of Marine Microbes (ICOMM), the project will report what is known, what is unknown but knowable and what may never be known about the biodiversity of marine microorganisms.
Teeming microorganisms make up almost 90 per cent of ocean life. These microbes are believed to have played a significant role over more than three billion years in making the planet habitable for the higher forms of life.
About a dozen Census of Marine Life research projects are going on around the world. But, unlike ICOMM, each of them is restricted to a geographical location.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.