About 50 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico is the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. The region is the intersection of several regional ecosystems, including grasslands, woodlands and riparian vegetation. The location is ideal for researchers to study how climate variability and climate change can act together to impact ecosystem dynamics and is known as the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. This project focuses on the blue grama grass rhizosphere of the LTER site. Aridland ecosystems such as the one found in the Sevilleta represent at least a third of terrestrial biomes and are known for their nutrient-poor conditions. For example, some of the known gene products from these ecosystems are stable at high temperatures and can tolerate low water levels and alkaline soil conditions. Blue grama grass is a keystone species in this region and recent studies indicate that more than two-thirds of the fungi in the rhizosphere are novel and represent functionally uncharacterized eukaryotic microbial communities By sequencing the expressed portion of the metagenome found in that region where the soil microbes and plant roots interact, researchers hope to produce an inventory of genes that lend insight to aridland ecosystems. Additionally, the information could be used to generate a list of gene products that might have industrial applications, such as biomass degradation for biofuel production.
Principal Investigators: Amy Powell, Sandia National Laboratories
Program: CSP 2010