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Bugs From Around the World

Much of the bacteria found in the oceans the world over can also be dredged up in the English Channel — about a third to two thirds of the bacterial taxa that are found at ocean sites around the world can be found there, researchers led by University of Chicago's Jack Gilbert report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"It's an unprecedented overlap," Gilbert tells Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

The researchers performed deep sequencing of a sample obtained from a site in the western English Channel and compared their results to the 56 datasets that comprise the global International Census of Marine Microbes. Their results showing overlap between the channel and other ocean sites indicates that there may be "a previously undetected, persistent microbial seed bank," the researchers write in PNAS.

Yong notes that microbes can easily float around the world on ocean currents or the wind or be transported by animals. "Any bit of water in the oceans can be anywhere else once every 10,000 years," Gilbert tells him, "and these bugs have lived for 3 billion years."