Enlarge (credit: Earth Microbiome)
Generally when cleaning out one’s freezer, it is advisable to get rid of any unidentifiable objects. Not so if one is a microbiologist.
In that case, it is advisable to carefully label the specimen with as much information as possible about the environment from which it was collected.
It’s a good thing that the world’s amateur microbiologists had freezers full of such specimens, because in 2010 the Earth Microbiome Project sent out a call (I think they shined a micrograph of a Staphylococcus aureus on the clouds or something).

The call was for everyone to send in said specimens for a global analysis.

And microbiologists from all seven continents, spanning forty-three countries and seventeen different environments, did just that.
The composition of microbial communities from environments ranging from the Sargasso Sea to our guts has already been studied.

Trouble is, each sample type and region has been studied in isolation, making it difficult to extrapolate general rules or patterns as to what may dictate the composition of each community.

Findings have been reported on the effects of temperature, pH, salinity, oxygen levels, and even day length on microbial community composition, but they cannot be globally applied because the samples were analyzed by different people at different times in different places in different ways.
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