PerspectiveMicrobiology

Preserving microbial diversity

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Science  05 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6410, pp. 33-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau8816

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  • Programs for Preserving Microbial Diversity Should Consider Environmental, Endangered and Non-Human Microbiomes
    • John Fuerst, Emeritus Professor, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, Queensland, Australia

    It was encouraging to read the Letter by Bello et al. in Science Oct 5 2018 on ‘Preserving Microbial Diversity’ (1),explaining the value of preserving the microbiome diversity of our global human population as a resource for the future. Utilizing our major recent advances in knowledge of the human microbiome and its importance for health and disease studies, they extend and strengthen the argument for preserving all sources for study of natural microbial community diversity (especially endangered microbial habitat material or DNA derived from it ) made in 2000 in the correspondence columns of Science (2) and which was also supported for cultured microbial strains in 2001 by Ward et al. (3). As implied in the first of those articles, there is also a need for a wider microbial community biobank project involving archiving of ‘type specimens’ of any environmental community already characterized in published metagenomics studies but also and as a matter of urgency microbial community specimens (or extracted microbial DNA) from habitats known to be endangered (whether already studied or not). Some examples are microbial communities of coral species of reef systems endangered due to climate change-induced bleaching events and ocean acidification (4) (5) (6) , microbial communities of the few remaining relict pre-agricultural tallgrass prairie soils(7) and aquatic microbial mats of desert freshwater systems threatened by agricultural development intensification (8).

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    Competing Interests: None declared.