– A catalog of microorganisms from the largest habitat on the planet, the oceans, has been completed and published in the journal Frontiers in Science. And ?Kmap? Led by Italian researcher Elisa Liulo from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This catalog is the result of a systematic search that has made it possible to collect 317 million different combinations of genes useful for understanding ocean biodiversity, but also for identifying substances useful in developing new medicines.
“The Kmap Global Ocean Gene Catalog 1.0 represents a breakthrough in understanding the total diversity of the oceans, as it contains more than 317 million genetic combinations from marine organisms around the world,” said Laiolo, a native of Genoa.
This is the largest catalog of its kind, freely available, and will be an essential tool for studying how different ocean ecosystems function, monitoring the impact of pollution and global warming, and researching biotechnology applications, such as new antibiotics or ways to break down plastic.
This achievement was possible thanks to new technologies that allowed the collection of DNA found in the marine environment in an increasingly simple and economical way, as well as the development of increasingly powerful supercomputers.
It has become possible to analyze the DNA of more than two thousand oceanic sites, collect samples from different depths, and classify millions of species of microorganisms based on their genetic characteristics.
Kmap is just the first step toward developing a global ocean genome atlas, which aims to identify every gene in every marine species in the world, from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals.
“Our analysis highlights the need to continue collecting samples from the oceans, with a focus on understudied areas such as the deep sea and the ocean floor. Furthermore, given that the oceans are constantly evolving, whether due to human activity or natural processes, The catalog is constantly updated,” added Laiolo.
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