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Title: Microbial food web mapping: linking carbon cycling and community structure in soils through pyrosequencing enabled stable isotope probing

Soil represents a massive reservoir of active carbon and climate models vary dramatically in predicting how this carbon will respond to climate change over the coming century. A major cause of uncertainty is that we still have a very limited understand the microorganisms that dominate the soil carbon cycle. The vast majority of soil microbes cannot be cultivated in the laboratory and the diversity of organisms and enzymes that participate in the carbon cycle is staggeringly complex. We have developed a new toolbox for exploring the carbon cycle and the metabolic and ecological characteristics of uncultivated microorganisms. The high-resolution nucleic acid stable isotope probing approach that we have developed makes it possible to characterize microbial carbon cycling dynamics in soil. The approach allows us to track multiple 13C-labeled substrates into thousands of microbial taxa over time. Using this approach we have discovered several major lineages of uncultivated microorganisms that participate in cellulose metabolism and are found widely in soils (including Verrucomicrobia and Chloroflexi, which have not previously been implicated as major players in the soil carbon cycle). Furthermore, isotopic labelling of nucleic acids enables community genomics and permits genome fragment binning for a majority of these cellulolytic microorganisms allowing usmore » to explore the metabolic underpinnings of cellulose degradation. This approach has allowed us to describe unexpected dynamics of carbon metabolism with different microbial taxa exhibiting characteristic patterns of carbon substrate incorporation, indicative of distinct ecological strategies. The data we describe allows us to characterize the activity of novel microorganisms as they occur in the environment and these data provide a basis for understanding how the physiological traits of discrete microorganisms sum to govern the complex responses of the soil carbon cycle.« less
  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States