General DNA metabarcoding helps with healthier soils


Eastman is helping address the triple challenge of climate change, global waste and a growing world population with a wide range of products and applications, including crop protection products. When it comes to concerns about soil, Eastman relies on Plant & Soil Living Lab to determine the composition of the microbial life and the soil health of experimental fields and production around the world.

soil sample petri dish

Eastman provides us with the soil samples. By analyzing the phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) present in the cell membranes of living organisms, we can give a first indication whether there is much or little soil life present in the sample. In addition, metabarcoding analyses of soil samples take us one step further.

How do we go about this? DNA is extracted from the soil, (mainly from bacteria and fungi). From this DNA, a small piece is multiplied (via PCR), which we call a barcode. The mixture of barcodes can be sequenced and the sequences obtained are compared with a DNA database to assign them to particular species.

Within the bacteria or fungi, using this DNA method we can determine which groups are more present than others and hence we can eventually calculate relative differences between soil samples.

Annelies Haegeman - ILVO researcher
barplot with taxa names

Using this technology, we can monitor the soil life of experimental fields over time and after certain treatments. These can then be compared with control fields to see the impact on soil life and ultimately give an indication of soil health.

Thanks to DNA metabarcoding performed at ILVO, we elevate our knowledge in soil science and improve the understanding of the impact of agricultural practices on soil microbiome. This comes in support to the implementation of a more sustainable agriculture.

Jean-Michel Rabasse - ADTS Manager Eastman

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