Microscopic soil samples could lead to big discoveries

June 4, 2015

Kirsten Hofmockel collects soil samplesMonitoring soil carbon increases and nutrient retention in agricultural grounds is a challenging task. The processes occur over long periods of time, and nature rarely follows a set order – varying spatial scales create diversity among communities of organisms, as well as events such as energy inputs, disturbances, and interactions between species on those grounds. The research process can take decades.

Kirsten Hofmockel and Elizabeth Bach don’t want to wait that long. Hofmockel, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University, and Bach, a postdoctoral research associate at the Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey, are investigating a new approach that could be measured in just a few growing seasons. 

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