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U.S. Geological Survey - Microbiology

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Geographic Patterns/Visualization

Scientists provide insight on the distribution of microbes that impact public health and ecosystem function.

Continental Patterns

Browse samples of USGS research about geographic patterns/visualization and continents.

Geochemical Landscapes Pilot Study (2004)
Phospholipid fatty acids and soil health map. Image credit: J. Holloway, USGS
Phospholipid fatty acids are used as an indicator of soil health in the Geochemical Landscapes project. Image credit: J. Holloway, USGS
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Soil microbial communities govern mineral weathering through the production of enzymes and organic acids that accelerate rates of reaction. The intertwining of soil chemistry and microbiology were examined through the Geochemical Landscapes pilot study (2004). This study addressed variations in soil chemistry on both continental and regional scales. Mineral soils for the continental study were collected along N-S (Manitoba to Texas) and E-W transects (along the 38th parallel) for analysis of major and trace chemical concentrations and microbial indices, including phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA; n=182) and enzyme assays (n=251). Continental-scale soil samples reveal distinct patterns of microbial biomass and composition that are largely governed by climatic variations and related variations in organic carbon. These data and archived samples were used as the basis for Mark Waldrop's project, Terragenomics: Continental scale patterns in soil microbial diversity, which expands upon this original study.

For more information contact David B. Smith, Central Region Mineral Resources Science Center; Martin B. Goldhaber, Crustal Imaging & Characterization Team; JoAnn M. Holloway, Crustal Imaging & Characterization Team; Richard Dick, Ohio State University; Kate M. Scow, U.C. Davis; and Rebecca Drenovsky, John Carroll University.

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