At the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, scientists are applying new technologies to investigate microbial function in extreme environments, including the deep ocean, sub-sea floor hydrothermal vents, geothermal hot springs and sub-glacial lakes.
Dr. Robert Bowers discussed the work at the Labcyte Genomics Symposium in Edinburgh, referring to the bacterial ‘dark matter’ in environmental microbial ecology, and how the JGI are modifying their single-cell genome production pipeline to expand what is known about the environmental microbial phylogenetic tree. To advance their work, JGI is applying automated liquid handling from Labcyte to improve shotgun metagenomics and single-cell genomic pipelines to help identify single-cell genomes from extreme environments.
Of note, Dr. Bowers stated that traditional 16s amplicon studies are missing as much as 10% of the microbial diversity present in the environment, so JGI is moving away from that method not only to reduce costs, but also to identify the significant proportion of environmental microbes that are currently missed.
Read a full summary of Dr. Bowers research here..