The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest and biologically richest rainforest, and it plays an essential role in global ecological processes, sequestering more carbon than any other ecosystem on Earth. The deforestation of the rainforest and its conversion into agricultural lands results in an estimated annual loss of 1.6 Petagrams C (1.6 billion kg) of non-sequestered carbon. In 2009, the Amazon Rainforest Microbial Observatory (ARMO) was created to obtain the first in-depth baseline estimates of microbial biodiversity and to measure the impact of rapid deforestation on this diversity. The project involves sequencing the metatranscriptomes or functional components of the metagenomes from five primary forest and five established pasture sites matching the ongoing metagenome analysis. Researchers hope to identify, catalog, and reconstruct ongoing metabolic processes occurring in tropical soils, with a particular focus on the functions, diversity of functions, and evolution of enzymes involved in carbon and nitrogen cycle processes. The work will aid researchers in determining the consequences of deforestation at this functional level.
PI: Klaus Nusslein, University of Massachusetts