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Worldwide ocean sampling event biggest ever attempted

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Worldwide ocean sampling event biggest ever attempted

A simultaneous sampling of the world’s oceans will be the single biggest attempt to gather information on the marine environment and New Zealand scientists will be ensuring data from this hemisphere is included in the results.

A simultaneous sampling of the world’s oceans will be the single biggest attempt to gather information on the marine environment and New Zealand scientists will be ensuring data from this hemisphere is included in the results.

The University of Auckland’s Institute of Marine Science is taking part in the “Micro B3 Ocean Sampling Day” event, coordinated by Germany’s Jacobs University and the University of Oxford in the UK.

“This is data-gathering on a truly giant scale and the information generated will be unprecedented in terms of what it might tell us about the world’s marine ecosystems,” says University of Auckland Associate Professor of Marine Science, Mark Costello.

“It’s also an opportunity to find out just how unique New Zealand’s marine bacterial DNA really is, given that half of our marine animal and plant species are found nowhere else in the world.”

The worldwide sampling event is being held on June 20 in New Zealand. It will generate data that not only tells scientists about the state of the world’s marine ecosystems but also contributes to the on-going search for microorganisms that could one day be used to treat human diseases such as cancer.

With sea water samples being taken from more than 150 sites from Iceland to Antarctica, scientists are calling the massive co-ordinated data-gathering the beginning of a new era in marine microbial research.

“For New Zealand researchers, this historical event means we will have access to the exploration and potential exploitation of marine resources because data sharing is a core part of the project,” Dr Costello says.

Advanced computer data mining techniques mean scientists will be able to sequence billions of genes from the huge number of microorganisms from samples taken. The information will be made available to marine scientists at research institutions around the world.

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