• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Sequencing Sargasso

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on plans to map the genome of every organism in the Sargasso Sea.


CURWOOD: Coming up: Pink is not so pretty, say the critics of farmed salmon.

First, this Note on Emerging Science from Cynthia Graber.


GRABER: Craig Ventner headed one of the efforts to map the human genome. Now, he’s going to map the genetic structure of an entire ecosystem.

The Sargasso Sea is a body of water in the Atlantic. It lies between the West Indies, Bermuda and the Azores, and it’s ideal for such an ambitious project because it’s relatively devoid of life--and so relatively easy to document.

To sequence all of the genes of all of the life-forms in the Sargasso, Ventner’s team is using tools developed for the human genome. For example, samples of seawater will be filtered and concentrated. Then the DNA of all the microbes in the water will be broken up and analyzed by powerful computers. Ventner expects to sequence the genetic structure of thousands of microbes, most of them unknown to science.

This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and one of its goals is to discover new bacteria that can help in the quest for cleaner emissions and renewable energy. Some bacteria might be able to scrub carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. And still other bacteria might be able to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells.

That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Cynthia Graber.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Listening on Earth.

[MUSIC: Manfred Mann “Blinded by the Light” The Best of Manfred Mann Warner Bros. (1996)]



Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth