Featuring C-DEBI scientist Roland Hatzenpichler.


New high-throughput and cost-effective approaches provide a better understanding of microbiome functioning

Many uncultured microbes play unknown roles in regulating Earth’s biogeochemical processes; everything from regulating plant health to driving nutrient cycles in both terrestrial and marine environments, processes that can impact global climate. While researchers are harnessing multiple approaches to identify these microbes, referred to as “microbial dark matter,” and determine what they’re doing, most techniques don’t allow them to do both at once.

In a study published online June 28, 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, utilized a recently refined technique to identify both individual active cells, and single clusters of active bacteria and archaea within microbial communities. Understanding the true scope of the planet’s microbial diversity is of interest to the DOE in order to learn how they can be harnessed for a wide range of energy and environmental challenges.