Saturday, August 4, 2012

Environmental sensing by the collective

Imagine if everyone who scoops up a cup of sand, lake, or ocean and submits it to a local repository gets some money in return. Why? Well, the local repository would process the microbial population and make it available to the public. Companies can analyze this data and predict changes in climate, spreading of potential parasites, etc.

Further, rather than analyzing microbes, it might be even more informative to analyze bacteriophages. First, they are more diverse than bacteria. Second, phages generally switch between dormant and virulent states based on environmental factors, hence providing an additional source of information.

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