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 July 24, 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 July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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