Biologists have started to sequence the genome of the global deep ocean. They are using more than 2,000 samples of microorganisms collected in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans during the Malaspina Expedition.
This collection of marine microbial genomic, the first in the world on a global scale, will provide new clues about a reservoir of biodiversity yet to explore, considering that it could imply the discovery of tens of millions of new genes in the coming years.
The works of sequencing (framed in the Malaspinomics project) focus on the viruses, bacteria and protists that inhabit the ocean to 4,000 meters deep. Most of the biomass of marine organisms is composed of microorganism. Of these, a 72% inhabit the dark ocean, from 200 meters deep. However, so far, the DNA or RNA sequencing had been almost exclusively limited to the ocean surface waters.
Malaspinomics preliminary results reveal a wealth of unknown species of microorganisms in the deep ocean, characterized by an intense biological activity. Specifically, 60% of the bacterial species of the deep ocean detected by massive sequencing techniques are unknown.