In three new metagenomic studies published online in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Craig Venter and his team take advantage of the vast amount of microbial sequence data collected during their Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling (GOS) expedition to reveal an unprecedented level of genetic and protein diversity in marine microbes.
Venter's team combined the expedition's latest bounty, 6.5 million sequencing "reads," with data previously collected during a pilot study in the Sargasso Sea. The result is a geographically diverse environmental genomic dataset of 6.3 billion base pairs—twice the size of the human genome.
The first paper and accompanying poster by Douglas B. Rusch and colleagues describe the immense amount of microbial diversity in the seas, and discuss how—or if—that diversity is structured and what might be shaping that structure. The second paper by Shibu Yooseph and colleagues studies the 6.12 million proteins identified in the GOS sequences to see if we're close to discovering all the proteins in nature. In the third study, Natarajan Kannan, Susan S. Taylor, Gerard Manning, and colleagues present their classification of 45,000 kinases (including 16,000 from the GOS dataset) into 20 distinct families, revealing their structural and functional diversity and an unexpected role for kinases in prokaryotic signaling.
This collection also includes an accessible and nontechnical summary of the broad significance of this research by Liza Gross. Some unexpected intellectual property challenges have arisen from this project, and these are explored in a feature by Henry Nicholls. A "challenge series" essay by Jonathan Eisen provides insight into the issues surrounding the field of metagenomics today.
To host all the additional metadata that surround metagenomic studies, a new database, CAMERA, has been established, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The GOS data are publicly available and ready for mining in CAMERA. You can read about the capabilities of CAMERA in a Community Page article by Rekha Seshadri and colleagues.
Natalie Bouaravong | EurekAlert!
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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