New species 'found in New Zealand's volcanic area'

Washington: Biologists have discovered some new species living in a volcanic area in New Zealand -- all microscopic and some potentially useful, which they claim haven't been found anywhere else in the world.

An international team, led by Matthew Stott of GNS Science in New Zealand, has uncovered the micro organisms in Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Microorganisms make up 50 per cent of the world's biomass and are vital to the healthy functioning of our planet and Stott said DNA sequencing work revealed an "extraordinary diversity" of bacterial species in geothermal systems, the function and role of many of which were unknown.

"Up until now the microbial diversity in geothermal systems in the Taupo Volcanic Zone has not been systematically catalogued. This study has shown that New Zealand geothermal systems house an extraordinary population of unique and possibly globally rare micro organisms.

"We're still not sure whether this diversity relates to the uniqueness of New Zealand geothermal systems, or whether it's because of the relative immaturity of the global understanding of microbial ecology science.

"Current estimates are that we only know of 5-10 per cent of the total microbial species on earth," he said.

Bureau Report