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Genome scientists from the US and Germany have assembled the first pages of a comprehensive encyclopedia of genomes of all the microbes on Earth. The results, published Dec. 24 in the journal Nature, will help biologists find new genes and fill out the branches of the “Tree of Life.”

“This is a rich sampling of the diversity of microbial genomes,” said Professor Jonathan Eisen of the UC Davis Genome Center and the U.S. Department of EnergyJoint Genome Institute, and senior author on the paper. “Better sampling across the tree of life gives you better reference points for predicting the functions of genes.”

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