Menu

Earth: Home to 1 Trillion Microbial Species

A new analysis of microbial data estimates that the world is home to 1 trillion species—of which only 0.001 percent have been discovered.

May 4, 2016
Catherine Offord

WIKIMEDIA, NASAResearchers at Indiana University have combined scaling laws with a model of biodiversity to produce a new estimate of the number of microbial species on Earth: somewhere between 1011 and 1012, or between 100 billion and 1 trillion. Given the current number of catalogued species stands at around 107, the researchers predict that around 99.999 percent of microbial species are left to discover. The findings were published on Monday (May 2) in PNAS.

“Estimating the number of species on Earth is among the great challenges in biology,” study coauthor Jay Lennon of Indiana said in a statement. “Our study combines the largest available datasets with ecological models and new ecological rules for how biodiversity relates to abundance. This gave us a new and rigorous estimate for the number of microbial species on Earth.”

The study compiled data from 20,376 surveys of bacteria, archaea, and microscopic fungi—plus 14,862 sampling efforts on tree, bird, and mammals communities—from 35,000 locations worldwide. After demonstrating that the abundance of the most dominant ocean bacterial species scales with the total number of individuals across 30 orders of magnitude, the researchers used these data to predict the existence of around one trillion microbial species worldwide.

Simon Malcomber, director of the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity program, which helped fund the research, said that the study “offers a view of the extensive diversity of microbes on Earth” and “highlights how much of that diversity still remains to be discovered.”

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.