Throughout the Sorcerer II Expedition and sister voyages, water samples were collected so our scientists could analyze the microbial life found at each location. What made this effort special is that of its scale and the new technology available for analysis. We were able to learn what is common across ocean microbial life as well as what is unique to specific environments. The initial pilot study in 2003 alone led to the discovery of more than 1.2 million new genes and more than 1,800 species.

DNA Collection

Water samples were collected and sent through a series of increasingly smaller filters. Each of these filters was then cataloged, frozen, and shipped back to the J. Craig Venter Institute to be processed.

DNA Sequencing

Once the frozen samples were received at our laboratory, the DNA was extracted, broken apart, and copied so that it could be sequenced (or read) and reassembled through a process called whole genome shotgun sequencing.