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New Grant to Aid Research on Soil Microbe DNA

October 16, 2012
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Serita Frey collecting soil samples

The Joint Genome Institute of the U.S. Department of Energy recently granted Harvard Forest researchers Jeffrey Blanchard (UMass), Kristen DeAngelis (UMass), Linda van Diepen (UNH), Serita Frey (UNH), and Jerry Melillo (MBL) a Community Sequencing Program award.

The award will cover the processing costs for sequencing 3 terabases of microbial community DNA and RNA gathered from Harvard Forest soils. Sequencing three terabases is roughly equivalent to sequencing 1,000 human and plant genomes, 10,000 ant genomes or 500,000 bacterial genomes. The sequencing and data processing will take 2-3 years.

The soil samples in question come from several long-term soil warming experiments at the Forest. The DNA/RNA chronosequence resulting from this award will help researchers understand how climate change affects soil microbial community composition and activity over time. A 2012 summer REU group project at the Forest helped to prototype the DNA sequencing analysis for this project.

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