Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 11:09AM
Drew Wolfe

Scientists Peek Inside The 'Black Box' Of Soil Microbes To Learn Their Secrets

"A tablespoon of soil contains billions of microscopic organisms. Life on Earth, especially the growing of food, depends on these microbes, but scientists don't even have names for most of them, much less a description."

"That's changing, slowly, thanks to researchers like Noah Fierer, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Fierer think microbes have lived in obscurity for too long. 'They do a lot of important things for us, directly or indirectly, and I hope they get the respect they deserve,' he says."

"'These microbes create fertile soils, help plants grow, consume and release carbon dioxide, oxygen and other vital elements. But they do it all anonymously. Scientists haven't identified most of these species and don't know much else about them, either, such as "what they're doing in soil, how they're surviving, what they look like,' Fierer says."

"According to Fierer, they've been extremely difficult to study, in part, because most of them refuse to grow anywhere but in the dirt, 'so we can't take them out of soil and study them in the lab.'"

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