Saturday, 10 March 2018

Which microbes matter most?

Scientists have recently announced a major achievement in ecosystem science. Their research illustrates a powerful new technique to simultaneously measure the growth rates of hundreds of individual bacterial taxa in any given soil sample.

Until now, however, scientists have not had the ability to measure growth rates of individual microbial populations other than by studying them in pure cultures within a petri dish. Unlike larger organisms such as birds, fish or mammals that can be tagged and monitored over time, individual microbial species are difficult to study effectively in their natural environment.

The new measurement technique is based on the quantitative stable isotope probing (qSIP) technology. By adding rare stable isotopes to soil -- tracers that contain heavy oxygen (18O) -- and then sequencing the bacteria that incorporated that tracer, the scientists were able to measure microbial growth.

See: Northern Arizona University

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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