Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using Computers And DNA To Count Bacteria, Measure Effects Of Metal Toxicity In Soil

Date:
August 30, 2005
Source:
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Summary:
Don't call them the Dirt Doctors, or Sultans of Soil, they're just clever Lab guys. A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory has a paper in this week's Science Magazine with a new way to count bugs in dirt. Bacteria, that is, in the highly complex world beneath our feet.

"ComputationalImprovements Reveal Great Bacterial Diversity and High Metal Toxicityin Soil," by Jason Gans, Murray Wolinsky and John Dunbar, of LosAlamos' Bioscience Division, describes a new approach to capturing thestructure of bacterial communities in soil. In addition, the studyprovides insight into the devastating effects of metal pollution onthose bacterial populations.

Why is this important, you ask? Itturns out that in our technology-driven world, with biosensors indevelopment for homeland security, emerging diseases surprising ourmedical communities and lifesaving medicines being extracted fromjungle plants, we still don't know what's under our feet. The bacterialcommunities of every day soil are intensely complex, so diverse anddensely populated, that normal measurement methods are overwhelmed.

"Withimproved analytical methods, we show that the abundance distributionand total diversity of soil-borne bacteria can be deciphered," saidDunbar.

"More than a million distinct genomes were present in thepristine soil, exceeding previous estimates by two orders of magnitude.When we examined the populations levels in metal-contaminated soil, wefound the bacterial genetic diversity was reduced more than 99.9percent," lead author Gans added.

The Los Alamos team used atechnique known as DNA re-association, separating the two strands ofall the bacterial DNA in a soil sample, blending them, and measuringthe time it takes for the correct halves to properly reconnect.

Asoften happens at Los Alamos, where thousands of scientists from everyimaginable discipline are gathered, the researchers form amultidisciplinary team, with Gans (biophysicist), Wolinsky (physicist)and Dunbar (microbiologist) using their varied backgrounds to solvethese types of knotty questions. Their new approach enables far moreaccurate measures of the contribution of microbes to globalbiodiversity and more importantly the impact of human activities on theorganisms responsible for sustaining all higher life forms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Los Alamos National Laboratory. "Using Computers And DNA To Count Bacteria, Measure Effects Of Metal Toxicity In Soil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050829073552.htm>.
Los Alamos National Laboratory. (2005, August 30). Using Computers And DNA To Count Bacteria, Measure Effects Of Metal Toxicity In Soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050829073552.htm
Los Alamos National Laboratory. "Using Computers And DNA To Count Bacteria, Measure Effects Of Metal Toxicity In Soil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050829073552.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins