(V Iverson/U of Washington) A graphical view of tens of millions of bases of DNA extracted from a marine microbial community found in Puget Sound, reveals the entangled genomes of bacteria, archaea and viruses. Scientists extracted 2 million of these to map the genome of one particular marine microorganism that had defied investigation.

It has proven difficult to figure out the genome of many of the microorganisms in the ocean because they are much less abundant than other, well-known species. This makes it difficult to isolate them and culture them, creating a chicken and egg problem: how do you study them if you can’t grow them, but to grow them you need to know a bit more about them. Just published in Science magazine, researchers from the School of Oceanography have created a way to isolate genomes of microorganisms that may make up less than 7% of a sample, using metagenomics. Vaughn Iverson, Virginia E. Armbrust and others discuss in this UW News articleHere is the original (registration required).