Microbes on the beach

More on microbes. This time, it’s the effort to understand the vast number of species that live all over our environment. Most of these (like 95%) can’t be grown in the laboratory, so they haven’t been studied much. For the past decade there’s been a rush to use new DNA sequencing technologies to identify and learn about these bacteria. That’s how we became aware of how little we know.

One effort along these lines is happening in my backyard, or not far from it. A group at the University of Washington is sampling mud from Lake Washington. They’re developing ways to pinpoint species that live there, focusing on bacteria that subsist on methane and related compounds. If you’re interested, you can read a summary from the press release, or visit the lab’s website.