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Ocean home to new proteins, families

Sequencing the sea's microbial communities uncovers millions of new proteins and thousands of unknown protein families

Melissa Lee Phillips
A sampling of genetic sequences from ocean microbial communities reveals millions of new proteins and thousands of new protein families, according to a report in this months Public Library of Science Biology. The analysis also suggests that continued sampling of microbial communities will reveal novel protein families "for some time to come," said study first author Shibu Yooseph of the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md.From 2003 to 2005, the Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling expedition collected seawater samples from a range of the world's oceans. Yooseph and his colleagues analyzed the genetic fragments in these samples using the metagenomics technique of shotgun sequencing. They assembled 7.7 million microbial sequences and predicted that these sequences code for 6.12 million proteins -- nearly twice the number of proteins in current databases, according to the authors. "The actual number of proteins might not be surprising to some people," Yooseph...

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