Microlands: The Future of Life on Earth (and Why It’s Smaller Than You Think)
'An epic travelogue, brimming with the excitement of discovery. With characteristic panache, Venter unveils the teeming array of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotes that crowd our planet's oceans' - Siddhartha Mukherjee
'This page-turner gives . . . the thrill of seeing our planet's largest universe through the brilliant, intrepid eyes of the scientist who has done more than anyone to unlock the secrets of life' - Martine Rothblatt
'A tour de force . . . Venter has expanded biology's horizons. This book explores microbial life on a global scale, providing cutting-edge solutions to problems of environmental change' - Aristides Patrinos
'A ripping tale . . . to revolutionize our understanding of our bodies, the oceans, and the planet' - Jack Gilbert
'An exhilarating account of how creative science is accomplished' - Sir Richard J. Roberts
'[A] fascinating tour of Planet Microbe' - Bill McKibben
'Venter and Duncan expand our scope of what it means to be alive' - Jamie Metzl
'Inspiring ... change[s] our ideas of how biology is done' - Telegraph
Upon completing his historic work on the Human Genome Project in 2002, J. Craig Venter declared that he would sequence the genetic code of all life on earth. Thus began a fifteen-year quest to collect DNA from the world's oldest and most abundant form of life: microbes. Boarding the Sorcerer II, a 100-foot sailboat turned research vessel, Venter travelled over 65,000 miles around the globe to sample ocean water and the microscopic life within.
In this book, Venter and science writer David Ewing Duncan tell the remarkable story of these expeditions and of the momentous discoveries that ensued-of plant-like bacteria that get their energy from the sun, proteins that metabolize vast amounts of hydrogen, and microbes whose genes shield them from ultraviolet light. The result was a massive library of millions of unknown genes, thousands of unseen protein families, and new lineages of bacteria that revealed the unimaginable complexity of life on earth. Yet despite this exquisite diversity, Venter encountered sobering reminders of how human activity is disturbing the delicate microbial ecosystem that nurtures life on earth. In the face of unprecedented climate change, Venter and Duncan show how we can harness the microbial genome to develop alternative sources of energy, food, and medicine that might ultimately avert our destruction.
A captivating story of exploration and discovery, this book restores microbes to their rightful place as crucial partners in our evolutionary past and guides to our future.
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