Scientists track ocean microbe populations in their natural habitat to create a ‘day in the life’ montage
Microbiologists who study wild marine microbes face enormous challenges in getting a clear picture of the daily activities of their subjects. But a team of scientists led by Professor Edward DeLong recently figured out how to make the equivalent of a nature film, showing the simultaneous activities of many coexisting species in their native habitat over time. Instead of making a movie, the scientists used a robotic device that drifted in the water gathering samples of one billion microbes every four hours. Similar to fast photography that stops action, the robotic device “fixed” each sample so that whatever genes the microbes were expressing at the moment of capture were preserved for later study in the lab, where the scientists created a time-lapse montage of the daily labors of microbes. Read a news release.