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The Earth's vast and diverse microbiome

This is Science Today. It's been estimated that in one teaspoon of soil, there can be a billion microbial cells and scientists only know the identities of fewer than ten percent of those or what their functions are. Earth scientist Janet Jansson of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they've developed a variety of technological developments to enable researchers to explore the identities and functions of Earth's microbial communities.

Jansson:         One recent example was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill where we used a combination of technologies to understand the microbial reaction to the oil and actually identify microorganisms that could degrade the oil. So, as a result of these technological advances, we can now gain a better understanding and appreciation of the role that microorganisms play in human health and in the environment.

Narrator:        And just as the Earth's microbiome is tremendously vast and diverse, so is the human microbiome.

Jansson:         There are ten times more microbial cells living on us and inside our bodies than our own human cells.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.