On Monday (3/27) and Tuesday (3/28) we took our first samples of the year in switchgrass plots at our Lux Arbor and Lake City field locations. We were able to capture soil samples prior to emergence of switchgrass and out next sampling will be timed to occur after emergence, but before fertilizer application. Below you can see of picture of Darian in front of a switchgrass plot from Monday and a time lapse video of the crew sampling a plot on Tuesday at Lake City.
Alan and Jeff attended the Department of Energy Genomics Program Annual Meeting in Arlington, VA from February 5-8th, 2017. The meeting included labs currently funded by the DOE Office for Biological and Environmental Research, with projects ranging from understanding the mechanisms of soil carbon sequestration to manipulating lignin composition in biofuel feedstocks. Alan presented a poster on the Fall 2016 greenhouse project investigating switchgrass growth responses to nitrogen availability and soil microbes while Jeff presented on the contribution of alternative nitrogenase enzymes to N-fixation.
In the lab, Alan is receiving training to analyze chemical mixtures using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and plans to analyze the composition of switchgrass root exudates in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Colleen has successfully been able to figure out how to perform dual DNA/RNA extractions from soil using a PowerSoil kit. Way to go Friesen Lab!
Multiple MMPRNT personnel will be attending and presenting a number of posters at the DOE 2017 Genomic Sciences Program Annual PI Meeting Feb 5-8, 2017 in Arlington, VA. Many thanks to GLBRC who provided funding for several in our group to attend. Have a great and productive meeting!
In other news the Tiemann Lab has been busy this winter working on multiple MMPRNT projects. See some pictures here and below check out what Darian and Yang have been up to!
In December 2016, Darian attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco. This meeting hosted many of the top researchers in biogeochemical science as well as many other fields from global climate change to volcanism. Darian presented research addressing the relationship between nitrogen mineralization and free-living nitrogen fixation in switchgrass cropping systems across two field sites. Her findings suggest that drought may have limited nitrogen fixation throughout the growing season, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about the relationship between free-living nitrogen fixation and nitrogen mineralization. However, her findings also suggest that belowground carbon investment my plants through root exudation may immobilize nitrogen, locking it up in microbial pools away from plant accessibility.
Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a widely used technique in quantifying a single nitrogen (N) functional gene. Yang is currently working on the development of a high-throughput qPCR platform (WaferGen) that provides the potential to comprehensively and accurately measure the abundance of many N functional genes in a single run. The WaferGen system contains 5184 wells and runs PCR arrays at a single annealing temperature and cycling condition. However, current N functional gene primers often produce long amplicons, have a high degree of degeneracy, and have a low coverage of the known diversity. Therefore, we need to modify and re-design most N functional gene targeting primers for WaferGen system.
The Ribosomal Database Project is developing a primer design program that enables to design primers with low manual input and large reference sets. The aim the groups is to use this new primer design program to produce a Gene-Chip targeting sub-groups of each N functional gene. Currently, we have finished optimizing and validating the primer design programs using some N-fixing pure cultures, and are designing primers for sub-groups of N-fixers.