Special seminar - Jeffrey Blanchard: Giant Viruses, Chlamydia, Vampire Bacteria and the Unexpected Diversity in Soil Microbial Life in the Harvard Forest Experimental Warming Plots

  • Date: Nov 8, 2019
  • Time: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Jeffrey Blanchard from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA, USA
  • Location: MPI Plön
  • Room: Praktikumsraum
  • Host: Paul Rainey


The Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research site in Petersham, MA is home to long-term experimental soil warming sites heated continuously to 5° C above ambient since 1991 and 2001, ample time for natural selection of genotypes better adapted to the altered environment. To better understand microbial biodiversity and develop a reference database for read mapping, we used a variant of single cell sequencing with small poosls of cell to improve cost efficiency. Phylogenomic analysis revealed a surprising diversity of microbial life. Sixteen new lineages of giant viruses were discovered for the first time in a forest soil ecosystem. Intracellular and host-dependent bacteria were enriched in the data set relative to abundances in our traditional metagenomics data set of DNA extracted directly from the soil. This collection of mini-MAGs exposed a reservoir of genetic diversity in difficult to cultivate organisms, some of which are related to human pathogens.

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