Nice summary of the Earth Microbiome Project by Gilbert et al.


If you have any interest in large scale microbial ecology – either to do it yourself or to make use of the results or to just watch it as it happens, you should read this paper: BMC Biology | Full text | The Earth Microbiome project: successes and aspirations.  It outlines the history and goals and some of the details behind a very audacious project – the Earth Microbiome Project.  When I first heard about this (at the Snowbird meeting referred to in the article) I thought it was a bit much and the authors even refer to a quote of mine in their article:

‘Knight and Gilbert literally talk about sampling the entire planet. It is ludicrous and not feasible – yet they are doing it’.

I note – I am not sure the authors realize but the point of my quote was to say that I was impressed – this seemed crazy and unfeasiable and yet they were pulling it off.

Anyway – I am impressed with the vision and commitment shown by the authors and others involved in this project to start to build all the tools and ideas needed to pull off a project to sample the planet.  This is a key component to my dream of a field guide to the microbes so I love that this is happening.

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.