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One trillion species of microbial present on earth, new study claims

Microbial Species Are Forms Of Life Too Small To Be Seen With The Naked Eye, Including Single-celled Organisms Such As Bacteria And Archaea, As Well As Certain Fungi. Microbial Biodiversity, It Appears, Is Greater Than We Ever Imagined, Lennon Pointed Out.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Nivedita R | Updated on: 24 May 2016, 05:13:29 PM
One trillion species of microbial present on earth, new study claims. (Representational Image)

New Delhi:

In a recent interesting study, based on the largest analysis of microbial data, it is found that the Earth could contain nearly one trillion species, of which 99.999 per cent are yet to be discovered. The findings suggest that only one-thousandth of one per cent of all the species have been identified till now. One of the study authors Jay Lennon from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana said, “Estimating the number of species on Earth is among the great challenges in biology.” The scientists combined microbial, plant and animal datasets from government, academic and citizen science sources, resulting in the largest compilation of its kind.

Overall, these data represent more than 5.6 million microscopic and non-microscopic species from 35,000 locations across all the world’s oceans and continents, except Antarctica. Lennon explained, “Our study combines the largest available datasets with ecological models and new ecological rules for how biodiversity relates to abundance. This gave us a new and rigorous estimate for the number of microbial species on Earth.”

The estimate, based on universal scaling laws applied to large datasets, appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Furthermore, Lennon added, “Until recently, we’ve lacked the tools to truly estimate the number of microbial species in the natural environment. The advent of new genetic sequencing technology provides a large pool of new information.”

Microbial species are forms of life too small to be seen with the naked eye, including single-celled organisms such as bacteria and archaea, as well as certain fungi. "Microbial biodiversity, it appears, is greater than we ever imagined," Lennon pointed out. 

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First Published : 22 May 2016, 03:06:00 PM

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