Is space really the final frontier or are the greatest mysteries closer to home? Researchers estimate that there are more undiscovered microbes on earth than stars in the sky. These microbes are known as “microbial dark matter” and form the pervasive (yet practically invisible) infrastructure of life on the planet.
A single handful of dirt contains approximately 100 billion microbes, but we have only been able to access the genomes of a few thousand of them. One large problem is that many microbes are unable to grow outside of their natural environment.
Researchers at the Joint Genome Institute are try to fill in these gaps of knowledge through new identification techniques (single-cell genomics).