The Voyage of Sorcerer II: The Expedition That Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean’s Microbiome

Belknap. Sept. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780674246478. $27.95. SCI
Scientist and biotech entrepreneur Venter writes, with the help of award-winning science journalist Duncan, about his travels from Alaska to Antarctica, where he took samples of microbiotic life in all the oceans of the world over the course of 15 years. This straightforward story unfolds chronologically. Venter, who was the first to sequence the complete genome of a bacteria and is famous for mapping the human genome, traveled 65,000 miles on a 100-foot yacht to find answers to science’s biggest questions about microbial life. There he and his collaborators discovered thousands of new organisms, analyzed millions of genes, and refined shotgun sequencing methodology. They also experienced storms, fires, and diplomatic snafus as they gathered additional data on algae blooms, plastic pollution, protein families, viruses, and the biological pump that captures carbon and produces oxygen in the ocean. In addition to sharing genomic data sets with the public, the team published hundreds of papers sharing their findings, such as the extreme varieties of life found in intense environments.
VERDICT This well-organized narrative of exploration and scientific discovery details the work of an important global science endeavor and brings together the topics of travel, microbiology, and sailing. It efficiently covers a vast amount of time, territory, and work.
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