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Friday, July 30, 2004he cracked the human genome, now he wants to collect the DNA of everything on the planet. Wired writes, "A lot of people wonder what happened to J. Craig Venter, the maverick biologist who a few years ago raced the US government to sequence the human genetic code. he's in the midst of a scientific enterprise as ambitious as anything he's ever done. Leaving colleagues and rivals to comb through the finished human code in search of individual genes, he has decided to sequence the genome of Mother Earth.
What we think of as life on this planet is only the surface layer of a vast undiscovered world. The great majority of Earth's species are bacteria and other microorganisms. They form the bottom of the food chain and orchestrate the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients through the ecosystem. They are the dark matter of life. They may also hold the key to generating a near-infinite amount of energy, developing powerful pharmaceuticals, and cleaning up the ecological messes our species has made. But we don't really know what they can do, because we don't even know what they are. Venter wants to change that. He's circling the globe in his luxury yacht the Sorcerer II on an expedition Venter and is capturing the DNA of varioys species on filter paper and shipping it to be sequenced and analyzed at his headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The hope is to uncover tens or even hundreds of millions of new genes, an immense bolus of information on Earth's biodiversityHe certainly talks big. "We will be able to extrapolate about all life from this survey," Venter says. "This will put everything Darwin missed into context."
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