National Science Review
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Microbes are the most abundant and diverse cellular life forms on Earth and colonize a wide range of environmental niches. However, more than 99% of bacterial and archaeal species have not been obtained in pure culture  and we have only glimpsed the surface of this mysterious microbial world. This is so-called Microbial Dark Matter (MDM): the enormous diversity of yet-uncultivated microbes that microbiologists can only study by using cultivation-independent techniques. Recently, a number of international projects have dramatically increased our understanding of the extent and distribution of microbial diversity, including the Global Catalogue of Microorganisms (GCM), the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA), the Earth Microbiome Project (EMP), the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea-Microbial Dark Matter (GEBA-MDM) and several primate microbiome projects; however, the functional diversity of MDM is still mysterious. This perspective addresses why MDM deserves scientific effort and illustrates challenges and opportunities in the future study of these enigmas.
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Microbial Dark Matter Coming to Light: Challenges and Opportunities.
National Science Review, 8(3),