"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Digging is nice news for microbial studies

Postdoctoral researcher Joe Edwards and graduate student Sarah Lowe, each within the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, published findings this spring that help fellow researchers store soil samples for later study of their microbial content. Can save more time and energy.

The preferred approach to storing soil samples for microbial studies has long been to freeze them to preserve DNA for studies which will require data collection down the road. Is. The downside is that these freezers should be powered and maintained at home.

Edwards and Love tested a wide selection of soil samples in a project funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Forest Service. Their evaluation suggests that soil stored under refrigerated or air-dried conditions can still retain the knowledge obligatory to know microbial community composition and structure for a few years.

“We wanted to show that this air-dried soil is still useful for understanding soil microbial communities,” Edwards said. “We are using dry soil microbes from an archived national database to look at long-term, continent-wide spatial patterns in fungal communities and compare them with forest census data from all these plots.”

This soil database stores the history of environmental changes in an area over a protracted time frame. Researchers want to check these soils in relatively recent ways to develop a timeline of environmental changes in fungi on the microbial level.

“This microbial sequencing technology has only been around for the last 10 to 15 years or so,” Edwards said. “We don't have very long-term trajectories for these microbiomes. The good thing about these archives is that they were sampled more than once, so we have multiple re-samples. We see They can have historical patterns for how much this community changes over time, which no one has really done yet.”

The results obtained by Edwards and Lu show that dry-storage soil samples will be extremely useful for studying how soil properties and fungal communities change over long periods of time, possibly a long time. How do they modify?

“What we were saying in the paper is a little bit counterintuitive,” Edwards said. “We were able to maintain environmental variation that was explained in the microbial community. This method isn't as reliable if you're just trying to track specific fungal taxa over time. But to see the diversity of the community and the broader patterns in the community. Structure, it's useful we can get a good idea of ​​the overall shape of these communities as they change over space and time.”

Knowing the reliability of accessible archived information can assist future researchers know that their samples will provide them with the accurate data they need.

Edwards and Lowe will apply these findings to the following phase of their very own soil research: sequencing hundreds of air-dried soils from across the country. The information they find can offer essential recent understanding of long-term, global patterns of change.