The single-celled organisms of the world’s oceans are immensely diverse. For the ‘International Census of Marine Microbes’ scientists are going to track down knowledge on the diversity and distribution of these micro-organisms and their viruses. The budget? 900,000 dollars of the Sloan Foundation in New York to start with. On February 7 and 8, the steering committee from America and the Netherlands will gather for the first time.
Goal of the International Census of Marine Microbes (ICoMM) is to get to know as many sea species as possible by international cooperation. By 2010 the scientists have to rapport what is known, what is still unknown but is knowable, and what may never be known about the biodiversity of the micro-organisms from the ocean.
By far the largest part of earth’s biodiversity is microbial. This is particularly the case for the oceans. Here we find 90 percent of the organic materials (the biomass) of sea life within micro-organisms. For over three billion years these unicellular organisms fuelled all kinds of processes and cycles. This way, our planet became also inhabitable for ‘higher’ organisms with more cells.
Froukje Rienks | alfa
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