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MIT: Oceans are a major gene swap-meet for plankton

anging," Chisholm said. "We no longer think of the microbial community as being made up of species that have a fixed genetic makeup. Rather, it is a collection of genes, some of which are shared by all microbes and contain the information that drives their core metabolism, and others that are more mobile, which can be found in unique combinations in different microbes.

"So it is these unique combinations of genes that create the diversity we see, and which allow microbes to flourish in all environments on Earth," she added. "And if we can understand the details of this phenomenon in Prochlorococcus, the simplest free-living organism, it should be very helpful toward understanding the diversity in all of life."


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
23-Mar-2006


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