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A communal catalogue reveals Earth's multiscale microbial diversity.

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PubMed ID: 29088705

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Thompson LR, Sanders JG, McDonald D, Amir A, Ladau J, Locey KJ, Prill RJ, Tripathi A, Gibbons SM, Ackermann G, Navas-Molina JA, Janssen S, Kopylova E, Vázquez-Baeza Y, González A, Morton JT, Mirarab S, Zech Xu Z, Jiang L, Haroon MF, Kanbar J, Zhu Q, Jin Song S, Kosciolek T, Bokulich NA, Lefler J, Brislawn CJ, Humphrey G, Owens SM, Hampton-Marcell J, Berg-Lyons D, McKenzie V, Fierer N, Fuhrman JA, Clauset A, Stevens RL, Shade A, Pollard KS, Goodwin KD, Jansson JK, Gilbert JA, Knight R

Nature. Nov 2017. doi: 10.1038/nature24621

COMMENT: The article describes a vast source of metagenomics data very useful for macroecological studies. The data was used to analyzed how bacterial diversity is affected by environmental conditions like pH or temperature or how it varies in different lattitudes.

Compared to previous analysis of the Earth Microbiome Project the authors remark this time the importance of the analysis of exact sequences instead of OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Units) as the exact sequences provide much finer resolution in the results.

The authors also point out the fact most of the diversity seen in the study was not captured in standard reference databases like Greengenes or Silva as only around 10% of the tag sequences detected were found in such databases.

Another important development compared to previous EMP analysis is the definition of an ontology, the EMPO ontology, specifically designed for the environmental metadata description.

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Marina Manrique