Featuring C-DEBI Researcher Blair Paul.

Researchers have discovered that previously unidentified microorganisms have a genetic element that enables them to self-mutate. What’s more, these organisms are so plentiful they dramatically expand the diversity of the tree of life.

“This discovery reveals how rapid evolution happens in some of Earth’s smallest and most common, yet least-known, microbes,” said Mike Sieracki, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences and co-director of the Dimensions of Biodiversity program, which supported the research.

The new findings appear in the journal Nature Microbiology.