Soil is a diverse ecosystem with microbial dark matter that remains to be discovered. Predicting microbial interactions in this complex system represents both an exciting frontier and a grand challenge with implications on the productivity and fertility of our nation’s soils. PNNL’s Soil Microbiome Science Focus Area (SFA) will result in a systems-level understanding of soil microbiome and phenotypic responses to changing moisture through a tractable, spatially explicit examination of the molecular and ecological interactions occurring within and between microbial consortia, with identification of sentinel biomarkers in complex, live soil systems. Integrated experiments are designed to confront both the scaling challenges and inter-kingdom interactions that regulate networks of biochemical reactions. Agent-based models will be parameterized using high resolution experimental data, and predictions will be tested in soils, using advanced chemical imaging and fluorescent probes unique to PNNL to reveal spatially explicit microbial interactions. Discoveries and outcomes from controlled experiments will be tested and validated in the field, using moisture gradient experiments at our new local field site. Data, models, and methods will be captured and shared with the broader science community through the establishment of a Soil Microbiome Knowledgebase (SMK), a data management infrastructure that leverages existing PNNL tools and resources to encourage sharing of data and results. Knowledge gained from this SFA will provide fundamental understanding for how enzymes, metabolites, and microbial consortia interact to decompose organic carbon and enable prediction of how these reaction networks and related functions shift in response to changing moisture regimes.
Laboratory Research Manager: Charlette Geffen
Principal Investigator: Janet K. Jansson
Co-Principal Investigator: Kirsten S. Hofmockel
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Hyun-Seob Song, Erin Baker, Hans Bernstein, Mary Lipton, Jason McDermott, Tom Metz, Ryan Renslow, and Aaron Wright
Kansas State University: Ari Jumpponen
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-Joint Genome Institute: Nikos Kyrpides
Washington State University: Steven Fransen