more than 90% of species of microorganisms remain to be studied

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In Portugal, a researcher is working on ways to use marine microorganisms to improve human health without deteriorating that of the oceans. He believes that humanity must use the oceans in a sustainable way by studying microorganisms, 90% of the species of which have never been studied.

One of the solutions to improve human health

Although they still cover 71% of the earth’s surface, the oceans are a still very little known world. There are indeed no less than two million marine species to be discovered. In a report published by Euronews on March 30, 2021, Prof. Vitor Vasconcelos, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) at the University of Porto (Portugal), estimates that scientists probably spend more time studying space than the oceans . However, according to him, the oceans can represent one of the solutions to improve human health. The point is, we first need to understand how these can provide half of the oxygen available on Earth.

In addition, these same oceans contain many organisms that can be studied. This could make it possible to find new solutions in terms of therapies. According to Vitor Vasconcelos: “We can imagine, for example, using cyanobacteria or microalgae, organisms that are present in the oceans for over three and a half billion years. So they resisted different environments; therefore, they have developed mechanisms to have molecules that can today be used to treat cancer, malaria, reduce obesity or attack other diseases that we know on our planet ”.

At CIIMAR, researchers are studying several forms of marine life, including cyanobacteria. Known for their high toxicity, they could have medicinal properties. The fact that their compounds are very varied is a detail motivating the hope of very important future discoveries. It is indeed possible to treat any disease provided that the molecule allowing it is found.

Credit: Josef Reischig / Wikimedia Commons

Most species have never been studied

For Vitor Vasconcelos, today he is very important to act sustainably. After having intensively exploited the oceans with overfishing, he thinks that we should now isolate the microorganisms and cultivate them in the laboratory. However, the field of possibilities seems very wide. Vitor Vasconcelos believes that more than 90% of species of microorganisms navies have not yet been studied.

In 2019, an international study brought the number of known ocean viruses from 16,000 to nearly 200,000. Researchers have provided the most comprehensive catalog to date of viruses found in the world’s oceans. Understand the viral populations in oceanic environments is essential insofar as viruses have an impact on all marine plankton organisms. This is because viruses can modify the structure of populations of bacteria, archaea, protists and other small animals.

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