If you have any interest in large scale microbial ecology – either to do it yourself or to make use of the results or to just watch it as it happens, you should read this paper: BMC Biology | Full text | The Earth Microbiome project: successes and aspirations. It outlines the history and goals and some of the details behind a very audacious project – the Earth Microbiome Project. When I first heard about this (at the Snowbird meeting referred to in the article) I thought it was a bit much and the authors even refer to a quote of mine in their article:
‘Knight and Gilbert literally talk about sampling the entire planet. It is ludicrous and not feasible – yet they are doing it’.
I note – I am not sure the authors realize but the point of my quote was to say that I was impressed – this seemed crazy and unfeasiable and yet they were pulling it off.
Anyway – I am impressed with the vision and commitment shown by the authors and others involved in this project to start to build all the tools and ideas needed to pull off a project to sample the planet. This is a key component to my dream of a field guide to the microbes so I love that this is happening.