DNA Everywhere and SOIL Team Up to Study Composting and Microbes!
Written by Gabby Pecora
DNA Everywhere allows anyone, anywhere in the world to perform advanced genomic testing through compact, affordable DNA extraction kits. After extraction, DNA is shipped to an institution equipped with PhyloChip analysis capabilities, which allows researchers to identify over 60,000 taxa of bacteria within a single test. The goal of DNA Everywhere is to make DNA technologies accessible globally, even in areas with minimal infrastructure
For the last two weeks, DNA Everywhere has taken over a piece of the Port-au-Prince SOIL office and has turned it into a SOIL laboratoire! This is the first field test of this technology outside of the US. During this visit, DNA Everywhere staff Dr. Gary Andersen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Gabrielle “Gabby” Pecora of the Carbon Cycle Institute conducted over 50 bacterial DNA extractions of SOIL compost. Samples were taken from compost piles at all stages of the composting process. Now the DNA will be shipped back to LBNL for advanced microbial community analysis using Andersen’s Berkeley PhyloChip. DNA Everywhere and LBNL will analyze which bacterial pathogens are present in what stages of the compost, if at all, and also study at which point all pathogens are deactivated. This study will provide additional scientific evidence about how SOIL’s thermophilic composting process affects pathogens.
Stage II of DNA Everywhere will provide SOIL and LBNL with the resources necessary to conduct DNA extractions routinely for the next 12 months. In order for a routine monitoring process to begin, DNA Everywhere held six-three to four hour training sessions teaching SOIL staff from both Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien how to perform DNA Everywhere DNA extractions. Both PAP and CAP crews were taught hands on how to use a micropipette, basic laboratory skills, sampling techniques, and DNA extractions. Both teams successfully performed DNA extractions with little to no help from DNA Everywhere staff at the end of the two-week period. DNA Everywhere brought with them two complete sets of the affordable and compact DNA Everywhere extraction kits that will stay in Haiti for further routine extractions.
And on a personal note from Gabby:
“The past two weeks in Haiti has been wonderful. It is amazing how quickly both teams picked up using pipettes as well as basic lab practices. After just two to three days, both teams were doing their own extractions, and reading off a protocol in English no less! Everyone at SOIL has been extremely welcoming and accommodating, and I cannot thank them enough for the hospitality and for their devoted effort to this project’s success. Both Gary and I had a fabulous time in Haiti, and we both are excited to return!”