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Scientists Unlock Key Information About the World's Soil Microbes

Typography

Scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder have created the first worldwide atlas of soil microbes, mapping 500 of the most common kinds of bacteria found in soil across the globe, from deserts to grasslands to wetlands.

Scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder have created the first worldwide atlas of soil microbes, mapping 500 of the most common kinds of bacteria found in soil across the globe, from deserts to grasslands to wetlands.

“It is amazing how much we still don’t know about even the most dominant microorganisms found in soil,” Noah Fierer, co-author of the new study and a research fellow at CU Boulder, said in a statement. “Now that we have this list, we can really focus our research efforts to categorize these major groups and see where they are and what they do.”

For the study, which was published this week in the journal Science, researchers collected soil samples from 237 locations on six continents and in 18 countries. They then analyzed the microbes’ DNA to track similarities and differences and created a list of 500 bacteria that account for almost half of all soil microbes. They then used computer models to map the organisms’ predicted distribution and abundance.

Read more at Yale Environment 360

Image: Predicted global distribution of the four major ecological clusters of bacterial phylotypes in habitats with high pH, low pH, drylands, and low plant productivity. 

CREDIT: DELGADO-BAQUERIZO ET AL, SCIENCE, 2018