Nature (London), 01 November 2017, Vol.551
Our growing awareness of the importance and diversity of the microbial world contrasts starkly with our limited understanding of its fundamental structure. Despite remarkable advances in DNA sequence generation, a lack of standardized protocols and common analytical framework impede useful comparison between studies, hindering development of global inferences about microbial life on Earth. Here, we show that with coordinated protocols, exact microbial 16S rRNA gene sequences can be followed across scores of individual studies, revealing patterns of diversity, community structure, and life history strategy at a planetary scale. Using 27,751 crowdsourced environmental samples comprising more than 2.2 billion reads, we find sharp divides between host-associated and free-living communities. We show that the distribution of taxonomic and sequence diversity follows consistent trends across samples types and along gradients of environmental parameters, highlighting some of the global evolutionary patterns and ecological principles that underpin Earth’s microbiome. Here, this dataset provides the most complete environmental survey of our microbial world to date, and serves as a growing reference to provide immediate global context to future microbial surveys.
Environmental Sciences ; Microbiome ; Earth ; Global ; Basic Biological Sciences ; Sciences (General) ; Environmental Sciences ; Physics
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