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...And tropical forest foils.

Tropical forests are famous for their biological diversity, much of it undescribed, but the real mother lode of new tropical species is underfoot, not overhead, according to an analysis of soil microbes from the eastern Amazon Basin in Brazil.

Rather than growing and then counting species and numbers of bacteria from a soil sample in the lab, agronomists James Borneman and Eric W. Triplett of the University of Wisconsin-Madison extracted DNA from samples of forested and deforested soil and analyzed 100 of the sequences they obtained.

"The microbial diversity [from this snapshot] is immense," the team reports in the July Applied and Environmental Microbiology None of the sequences were duplicates, and none had been reported previously. Most of the sequences were related to those of bacteria such as Clostridium and Planctomyces, but 18 could not be assigned to any known bacterial group. Most of the novel sequences, presumably representing unknown microbes, came from the forested soils. Two sequences belong to microorganisms from the ancient and little-known domain of archaea (SN: 8/24/96, p. 116).
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Title Annotation:DNA analysis shows biodiversity of tropical forest soils
Author:Mlot, Christine
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 9, 1997
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