OSLO — The oceans are teeming with 10 to 100 more types of bacteria than previously believed, many of them unknown, according to a study released on Monday that has jolted scientists’ understanding of evolution in the seas. Using a new genetic mapping technique, United States, Dutch and Spanish scientists said they found more than 20 000 different types of microbe in a single litre of water from deep sites in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. ‘These observations blow away all previous estimates of bacterial diversity in the ocean,’ said lead author Mitchell Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts. He said past studies had suggested that one litre of water would contain 1 000 to 3 000 types of microbe – the oldest form of life on the planet. Microbes make up more than 90 percent of the total mass of life in the seas, from bacteria to whales. ‘We’ve found 10 or maybe 100 times more diversity in sea water than anyone imagined was present,’ he said. ‘The study was part of a global Census of Marine Life and was published by the Proceedings of the US National Academy […]

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