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Fri Sep 15, 2017, 12:59 PM

Scientists Just Discovered Organisms That Are Distinct From Any Life Forms Known to Science

At the core of this research, which has been published in Nature Microbiology, was a relatively new technique known as metagenomics. It involves the sequencing of all the DNA in a sample of an environment — dirt, water, feces, etc. — to produce that sample’s metagenome.

Past research has also identified unique industrial and environmental uses for microbes. They’ve been used to create fertilizers for agriculture, and the ethanol produced by some can be found in dyes, detergents, and other products. Scientists from the U.K. noted that newly evolved ocean microbes could be eating the vast majority of the plastic currently polluting our waters, and bacteria that live off of carbon could help in the battle against climate change.

Beyond the many potential uses for these newly identified organisms, their mere discovery is exciting for what it can tell us about the world we share.

As UQ researcher Donovan Parks told New Scientist, “All the questions we have about ancient evolutionary events — what our last common ancestor looked like, when methane metabolism arose, when oxygen-producing organisms evolved — they really benefit from having more genomes to look at and a more detailed tree.”


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