Coral reefs are home to the greatest microbial diversity on Earth

Thursday, June 1, 2023 - 11:33 in Earth & Climate

Coral reefs, bastions of marine biodiversity because of the abundant fish, invertebrates, and algae they support, are also home to Earth’s greatest microbial diversity, according to a new estimate. From 2016 to 2018, an international team of researchers aboard the sailing ship Tara studied 99 reefs off 32 islands across the Pacific Ocean, home to 80% of the world’s corals. They sequenced DNA from more than 5000 samples of three coral species, two fish species, and plankton. The team identified a half-billion kinds of microbes, mostly bacteria. Microbes were most diverse among the plankton ; among animals, the blade fire coral ( Millepora platyphylla )...

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