Giving — Funding Opportunities
Microbial and Environmental Genomics
The world around us is largely inhabited and maintained by a vast army of unseen microorganisms. With the development of advanced genomic tools, we are only now becoming aware of just how prevalent these organisms are, and how important they are to all life on our planet. Since sequencing the first free-living bacterium, Haemophilus influenza, Venter Institute scientists have been leading the field of microbial genomics. Today, the Venter Institute has sequenced more than 100 organisms and is blazing new trails in environmental metagenomics. From deep ocean vents to the air above New York City and from soils in Panamanian jungles to the human mouth and gut, Venter Institute researchers are modern day explorers of this microbe-driven world.
The Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition (GOS) was modeled after some of the great ocean expeditions such as the voyage of the Challenger in the late 19th Century and the earlier voyage of the Beagle during which Darwin made many of his famous evolutionary observations. Beginning in 2004 Venter Institute researchers circumnavigated the globe aboard the 95 foot sailing vessel, Sorcerer II, sampling sea water approximately every 200 nautical miles. This seemingly simple idea has revolutionized understanding of the microbial world in our oceans. The initial results from this work are staggering — more than six million new genes and proteins discovered and added to the public databases. But this is just the beginning. Venter Institute scientists are analyzing the next phase of the GOS and estimate they could at least double that already staggering number. This type of environmental sampling and sequencing creates a baseline allowing measurements of environmental change in a warming world, and provides insights regarding new life, genes and proteins, and about how life is possible in certain environments.