Hong Kong, March 11 (IANS) Over 7,000 new marine species have been discovered from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, shedding new light on understanding of microbial biodiversity in the seas.
The team from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), discovered over 7,000 new biofilm-forming species and 10 new bacterial phyla, breaking the existing belief that the world has only 35,000 marine microbial species and 80 bacterial phyla, Xinhua news agency reported.
The new species, also included acidobacteria — a natural medicinal phylum with the CRISPR gene editing system — raising hope for the development of new drugs.
“The discovery of new marine microbial species has not only improved our understanding of ocean biodiversity, but more importantly, these species have big potential, both in terms of facilitating our understanding of lives and offering new clues to our search of new treatments for diseases,” said lead author Qian Peiyuan, Professor of the Department of Ocean Science at HKUST.
Acidobacteria, previously known to exist in terrestrial soils, has been used for developing novel antibiotics and anti-tumour drugs due to its high level of biosynthetic gene clusters.
It is the first ocean species found to contain the gene-editing system CRISPR, and offers resistance to foreign plasmids or phages and contains gene-editing capabilities, the report said.
For the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the team sourced water samples across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.