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Any microbiologists out there?


MarkW
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Bit of a long shot, but I'm looking for some info on techniques for measuring the persistence and multiplication of non-native microorganisms in soil. I'm thinking GFP-labelling might be worth considering, but I'm not sure how well conserved the trait is over a long-term study.


Any ideas most welcome!

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Ha ha! Yes, it is a bit esoteric, but after my surprise success with another shot-in-the-dark question (root canal problems) I thought I'd have a punt!


GFP (Green Fluorescence Protein) is a protein that fluoresces under certain wavelengths of light, and that can be used to label microorganisms to make them easier to track in complex systems, like soil. Trouble is I don't know enough about it to know if it would be suitable for what I need to do, so I was hoping someone might be able to give me a little primer before I go and make myself look like a complete cretin in front of some academic types. Not that it would be the first time...

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Need a bit more info


If you're introducing something into the organism via a plasmid there's every chance it could be exchanged with a native species and then you'd be tracking the movement of the plasmid and the gene rather than the strain you introduced in the first place :)

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Hi OhJay


That was one of my concerns - I think GFP labels are even used to quantify horizontal plasmid transfer, so I could easily end up tracking a whole load of non-target organisms.


The background to this is that EU regulatory authorities responsible for approving microbial pesticides (which are usually bacteria or fungi, but occasionally viruses) are getting increasingly interested in the environmental fate and behaviour of these microorganisms once they have been applied to crops. Historically they have accepted the fact that they cause short-term perturbations in the native microbial community, as do other agricultural practices such as ploughing, liming and fertilising, and that these communities return to equilibrium after a few weeks.


This is becoming more of an issue now due to the increased use of microorganism strains isolated from outside the EU, invalidating the well-used arguments about the ubiquity of the organism in the receiving environment.


I'm wondering if there is a way I could inoculate a microorganism into natural soil in the lab (artificial soils would be easier to work with but would be rejected by regulators as hopelessly unrepresentative) and then quantify its decay or proliferation over time.


Cheers! :thumb:

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