Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

Seas Yield Surprising Catch of Unknown Genes at the WaPo covers the results of a "21st-century version of Charles Darwin's 19th-century voyage on the HMS Beagle."

The catch? This expedition was searching for microbial life.

The Catch? "Thousands of novel life forms...has doubled the number of known genes in Earth's biological kingdom."

Perhaps most exciting, said study leader J. Craig Venter, is that the rate of discovery of new genes and proteins -- the building blocks of life -- was as great at the end of the voyage as it was at the start, suggesting that humanity is nowhere close to closing the logbooks on global biodiversity.

The Inconvenient Truth?
Mitchell Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., praised the work as a "remarkable technological achievement." Microbes account for up to 90 percent of the biomass in the oceans, he said, and control all the major biological and geochemical cycles that keep Earth's ecosystems in balance.
(Bold added)

Hmmm, mebbe there's a wee bit more research to be done, eh, Al?