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Why Do Scientists want To Find Out where Bacteria Reside Underground?

It's typical to see several hundred different types of fungi and bacteria in a single pinch of soil off the ground, she says, making it one of the most diverse ecosystems that exist.


But having that knowledge about these organisms— too small to see with the naked eye—is key to better understanding the soil microbiome, which is made up of the communities of different microbes that live together.


The team recently published their findings in a new paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution.


According to Dietze, as the researchers looked at organism groupings higher up on the phylogenetic scale, a method that classifies organisms based on evolutionary relatedness, their ability to reliably forecast which bacteria would likely be detected in a specific soil sample improved as well. 


The "species" represents the highest level of classification on the smallest scale; on the other hand, a "phylum" represents the broadest and most diversified groupings of organisms. 


They were shocked to see that they could forecast the presence of an entire phylum rather than individual species.


They discovered that, based on their symbiotic relationship with local plant species, their model was the best at predicting the existence of microbes. 


Despite knowing the amounts of soil acidity and the sorts of bacteria that prefer to dwell in that environment, their model couldn't reliably predict the amount of bacteria present in the soil sample, according to Bhatnagar. 


"That suggests there's something else outside the association with [acidity], beyond any other environmental element that we generally assess in our ecosystems," she says.


Now, Dietze and Bhatnagar's team are extending their projections beyond forecasting bacteria based solely on their location to incorporate certain seasons. Werbin seeks to solve fundamental issues regarding how and why the soil microbiome fluctuates through time and geography with her dissertation thesis. 


"As we learn more about soil bacteria, we recognize how crucial they are for agriculture, public health, and climate change." 


"It's fascinating to look into how minute species may have such large-scale consequences," Werbin says. 


My Ph.D. thesis will aid in identifying the soil microbiome's driving forces as well as the main sources of ambiguity. "

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Bacteria Dietze Nature


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