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Monitoring the health of our changing environment with microbial DNA

Can microbial DNA be used as a sensitive and reliable indicator of changing environmental conditions? Microbes are both ubiquitous and taxonomically diverse and it is thought that they may be highly responsive indicators of changing environmental conditions as a consequence of their rapid life cycle.

Here, I discuss the outcomes and opportunities provided by major national and international studies designed to explore the biogeographical distribution of microbial life across soil, freshwater and marine environments. In each study, many thousands of samples have been collected to quantify the extent that microbial community composition and function may be determined by anthropogenic stresses such as land use change, in addition to natural influences such as gradients in sampling location, temperature or soil taxonomy.

In light of these findings, we have developed novel microbial community indices to ‘score’ the ecological health of terrestrial and aquatic environments, and are exploring how these same methods may now be used to catalogue the diversity of all life, including macroorganisms, from the presence of their DNA in soil, water and leaf litter.

Date Monday, 8 October 2018
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience All University
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Seminar
CampusDunedin
DepartmentMicrobiology and Immunology
LocationMicrobiology Bldg, 720 Cumberland Street, Dunedin. 2nd Floor, Room 208.
CostNA
Contact NameJennifer van Eunen
Contact Phone+64 3 479 7734
Contact Emailjennifer.vaneunen@otago.ac.nz

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