DNA mapping of the microbiome

Eurofins is looking for new methods to gain a detailed insight into the microbiome in soil, substrate and water. This is important because healthy soils and substrates are the basis for resilient growing systems. With Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) we can provide insight into what lives in the soil down to the species level. NGS microbiome profiling complements Soil Life Monitor and DNA Multiscan.

Fungi, bacteria and protozoa play an important role in soil. These micro-organisms release nutrients for plant growth, contribute to soil structure and help build organic matter. However, not all fungi and bacteria are beneficial to plant growth. There are also micro-organisms that can make plants sick. In a healthy soil, micro-organisms are in balance.

Soil Life Monitor already gives us a picture of the functional groups of micro-organisms in the soil. But this group classification does not distinguish between species. This makes it difficult to distinguish good micro-organisms from pathogens.

In addition to Soil Life Monitor, we also carry out DNA Multiscan in soil, water and substrate. This test provides information on the presence of a number of pre-defined specific species in soil, water or substrate. However, it is mainly concerned with pathogens.

PLFA determination

Soil Life Monitor can be used to analyze the amount and activity of soil life. A PLFA analysis provides an insight into the different functional groups of micro-organisms present. PLFAs are a specific type of acid found in the cell walls of living organisms.

Within a functional group, micro-organisms can behave very differently. For example, there are positive and negative Verticillium fungi (Verticillium tricorpus versus Verticillium dahliae) and not all Gram-positive bacteria are positive in soil. As a grower, you want to know about the different micro-organisms and the effect of a particular soil treatment.

NGS technology

By analyzing the DNA of micro-organisms, it is possible to distinguish between different species within a functional group. This is done using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). This innovative technology precisely maps the DNA of micro-organisms.

NGS enables Eurofins to characterize the DNA of the soil microbiome. We have now mapped the DNA of many fungi and bacteria. We can then type and visualize the micro-organisms present.

From data to interpretation

Visualization provides a clear picture of what is living in the soil, substrate or water. And it makes it easy to distinguish the good from the bad species within a fungal or bacterial family.

Eurofins is working to further develop this technology. We are currently investigating the functional interpretation and visualization of the data obtained.

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