By Tia Chung-Swanson
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Legend/credit: Electron micrograph of the Ebola Zaire virus. This was the first photo ever taken of the virus, on 10/13/1976. By Dr. F.A. Murphy, now at U.C. Davis, then at the CDC. Every image requires a link to the source.
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Introduce environment. Give key information relevant to the microbial ecology of the environment.
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Detailed Environmental Description
In the first soil classification system, created in the 1890s, there were five natural soil zones: tundra, podzol, chernozem, desert, and laterite. Arctic soils were classified in this system as tundra soils. Even with the limited knowledge from the 19th century, it was clear that cold-climate zones were unique because of the much more relevant layer of permafrost. Permafrost is soil that remains permanently frozen for the entire year, which is topped by an active layer that thaws each summer and then freezes again for the winter. Today, arctic soils are classified as gelisols within the soil taxonomy created by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. A gelisol is defined as a soil that has either “permafrost within 100 cm of the soil surface,” or “gelic materials within 100 cm of the soil surface and permafrost within 200 cm of the soil surface.” Since permafrost is frozen year-round, it stores a large amount of organic matter that does not get degraded. Arctic soils are particularly interesting at the moment due to anthropogenic climate change. When permafrost melts from the rising temperatures, the microbes stored in that soil activate and they can use all the newly accessible nutrients. They release CO2 and possibly other greenhouse gases, like CH4, and N2O. This permanently increases the thickness of the active layer, which has implications for the biogeochemical cycling that the Arctic and other gelisols are capable of.
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Overview of Microbial Ecology as it is known
Discuss the alpha and beta diversity of the system. Include some current research, with at least one figure showing data.
Expansion topic 1-3
How you expand upon the basics will depend on your environment. Pick a couple or three of interesting subtopics and describe them in detail. Include some current research, with at least one figure showing data.
Key Microbial Players
In all of your systems there will be at least a couple of key microbial players. Describe these in detail. Where do they fall on the tree of life? Are they cultured? What do they do in general and as it relates to your target environment?
- Bartlett et al.: Oncolytic viruses as therapeutic cancer vaccines. Molecular Cancer 2013 12:103.
- Tedrow and Cantlon: Concepts of Soil Formation and Classification in Arctic Regions. Arctic 1953 11:03.
- International Permafrost Association: What is Permafrost? 2015.
- Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys. Agriculture Handbook 1999 436.
- Waelbroeck et al.: The impact of permafrost thawing on the carbon dynamics of tundra. Geophysical Research Letters 1997 24:03.
- Nordin et al.: Nitrogen Uptake by Arctic Soil Microbes and Plants in Relation to Soil Nitrogen Supply. Ecology 2004 85:04.