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Microbes are ‘unknown unknowns’ despite being vital to all life, says study

A new study has highlighted how little is known about microbes – the hidden majority of life on Earth.

Life on the planet relies on an enormous quantity of bacteria, fungi and other tiny organisms. They generate oxygen, keep soils healthy and regulate the climate. Microbes play a crucial role in food production, such as cheese, beer, yoghurt and bread.

But despite their importance to human life and the health of the Earth, a new scientific paper has shown our “profound ignorance” of microbial biodiversity and how it is changing.

“We have no idea whether global microbial diversity is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same.”

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