Leonardo da Vinci from the European Renaissance had mentioned that humans know more about the celestial bodies’ movement compared to the soil underfoot. It has been 500 Years and we still have no much information despite having countless scientific and technological innovations. Thus, in order to bring about a change, the team from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have detailed the world’s first thriving use of a method named “BONCAT” so as to isolate active microbes from the soil samples. The microbial communities in the soil are highly diverse and many of them have a vital role to play in the Earth nutrient cycles.
The microbes form the backbone of terrestrial ecosystems and healthy ones are the key to sustainable agriculture. The new tool can help us activate microbes for environmental processes. The researchers from the US are focusing on Ecosystems and Networks Integrated with Genes and Molecular Assemblies (ENIGMA) so as to collect more information about soil microbiomes. The project can help seal the gap regarding the concepts of environment functions and also make use of microbiomes so as to combat drought-resistance in crops, clean the environment, and produce green fuels plus bioproducts.
The microbiomes from the waste in the underground water reservoirs and some of them are inactive most of the time. There are many approaches like DNA sequencing and more to characterize the communities. Many of the techniques fail to differentiate the active ones from the dormant due to the plethora of DNA in the soil or sediments. Caltech geneticists had invented Bioorthogonal Non-Canonical Amino Acid Tagging (BONCAT) in 2006 to separate out protein from the cells. Many Berkeley Lab and Victoria Orphan’s lab adapted BONCAT as a tool to identify active microbes from dozens to hundreds of them in the ocean sediments. The refined tool was BONCAT Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting (BONCAT+FACS) that helped identify a solitary microbe through the tagging method. The team is investigating the Candidatus Dormibacteraeota’s unknown roles. According to Professor Rick Cavicchioli from the UNSW Sydney focuses on marine organisms such as phytoplankton that capture light and also remove carbon dioxide from the air so as to curb global warming.
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