Surfing Microbes Discovered By Scientists Will Provide Insights Into Changing Oceans

Source: University

Photo: Andreas Psaltis/Unsplash


Australian scientists have recorded more than 175,000 tiny microbes dwelling in our ocean waters for the first time, providing an unprecedented baseline against which to measure the effects of climate change and human activities.

Microbe fact file

  • Microbes were the first life on earth and formed almost 3 billion years ago
  • They account for up to 98 per cent of the ocean’s biomass
  • They produce 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen
  • Microbes create clouds by generating gases that interact with the atmosphere
  • They sequester carbon by sinking to the ocean floor, trapping carbon in the sediment

Invisible to the naked eye, microbes constitute almost 98 per cent of the ocean’s biomass and are responsible for keeping the marine ecosystem healthy.

A paper recently published in Scientific Data, led by University of Newcastle’s Dr. Mark Brown and Macquarie University’s Dr. Martin Ostrowski, reveals the vast diversity of microbes and provides new knowledge about their environmental behaviour.

The unparalleled dataset is the result of an ongoing collaborative initiative involving 18 Australian universities, Commonwealth agencies and research institutes, which recorded more than 175,000 unique species of microbes at seven sites around Australia’s coastline and into the Southern Ocean.

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Photo: Andreas Psaltis/Unsplash

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