Woz delivering your Mac is like having Edison delivering a lightbulb

April 14th, 2014

Woz delivering your Mac is like having Edison delivering a lightbulb

Steve Wozniak just sent this fun stunt caught on video a few years ago: Watch him deliver a Mac to Emma, a girl who freaks out when she realizes her idol is at the door carrying her new computer. As Emma’s father says in the video: "This is like having your lightbulbs delivered by Thomas Edison". He’s totally right.

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Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/gWLWO02NkH0/@jesusdiaz
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Kelly Clarkson Gets into the Holiday Spirit with Wrapped in Red Concert

November 28th, 2013

Getting into the holiday spirit, Kelly Clarkson celebrated by performing at the 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting in New York City on Tuesday (November 26).

While withstanding the chilly weather, the former “American Idol” hid her tiny baby bump in a red peacoat as she took to the stage and sang a few Christmas tunes off her album Wrapped in Red.

During her interview on “Today,” the 31-year-old singer admitted that her growing little one was causing all kinds of issues.

“I don’t know why they call it morning sickness because it’s like all day and all night,” Miss Clarkson declared. “I’m super excited about being pregnant. I’m just looking forward to the second trimester. They say it’s better.”

In regards about her original plan to keep her pregnancy underwraps for while, Kelly stated, “I was just dying to tell people, but we were trying to wait until the end of my first trimester… but everybody kept talking about it and I had to cancel something because I’ve been ill.”

“I didn’t want people to think I’m canceling because I’m lazy or something. So, we just told people. But we had a really good reason,” she added.

Source: http://celebrity-gossip.net/kelly-clarkson/kelly-clarkson-gets-holiday-spirit-wrapped-red-concert-972455
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Drew Barrymore Goes for Some Grub in Beverly Hills

November 22nd, 2013

Going for an early dinner while out in Beverly Hills, Drew Barrymore hid her growing baby bump on her way to The Grill Thursday (November 21).

Keeping the affair casual in blue jeans and sneakers, the “Charlie’s Angels” hottie wore her hair down, and sported a long tan overcoat, which covered up her tummy.

Drew is also promoting her “Flower: Love the Way You Look” make up line, which can be found exclusively at Walmart. According to Flower’s website, the philosophy behind the cosmetic company’s vision states, “You no longer have to spend a lot of money to get the quality cosmetics you want and deserve.”

“How do we do it? We do not pay for advertising. Where other beauty brands spend a vast percentage of the cost of their products on ads, we do not. Drew, as an owner of the brand, takes pride in promoting Flower, which in turn allows us to put all of our resources into the formulas and packaging, and not into advertising.” Check out the official website to learn more!

Source: http://celebrity-gossip.net/drew-barrymore/drew-barrymore-1140553
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If you’re reading this, you’re an early adopter

November 19th, 2013

When Engadget launched, almost 10 years ago, we had a pretty simple mission: We followed tech news obsessively for readers who took technology as seriously as we did. Engadget was the site for tech enthusiasts, early adopters and unabashed gadget fans.

Over the past 10 years, a lot has changed. But as we get ready to embark on our second decade, we still have a pretty simple mission: We’re here to serve the early adopter — the early adopter in all of us.

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Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/wNMD-cJanAU/
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Comcast might start selling movies via its cable boxes, instead of just renting them

November 16th, 2013

According to the infamous “people with knowledge of its plans,” cable TV giant Comcast will move from renting video on-demand movies to selling them, in rumors reported by Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. Hollywood studios love pushing the digital sales of movies and have recently expanded efforts to release flicks early for purchase on internet services, weeks before they come out on disc. Any offering by Comcast will probably be similar to what’s already out there from stores like iTunes, Walmart’s Vudu and even Target, except that instead of just digital access through the Xfinity website and apps, viewers could watch movies right on their cable boxes as well.

According to the WSJ, the offering will not be tied to other stores using Ultraviolet authentication, at least at first, so any digital collections will have to start fresh — something that may not appeal to end users who could find access restricted if they switch service or move to a non-Comcast neighborhood. Verizon FiOS TV already sells movies to end users through Flex View, while Dish Network is mentioned as considering a similar move. One thing that could make Comcast’s dive into movie sales more interesting however, is if it follows up on a 2011 patent dug up by Fierce Cable, describing a Groupon-style method of adjustable prices that lower if more people rent or purchase first-run movies while they’re still in theaters. Unfortunately, what we’ll probably see is just another video store indifferent clothing, but we’ll know more once it’s officially announced.

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Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal

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Jawbone intros the Up24, its first wireless fitness tracker: on sale now for $150

November 13th, 2013

It took Jawbone two tries to release a fitness tracker that didn’t break after several days of use. And it took the company three generations to release one that could sync users’ sleep and activity data without having to be plugged in. Today, about two years after the first Up band went on sale, …

Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/VQG7sAm8u1Y/
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Olympic torch blasts into space for 1st spacewalk

November 10th, 2013

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-11M space ship carrying new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The rocket carrying the Olympic flame successfully blasted off Thursday from earth ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-11M space ship carrying new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The rocket carrying the Olympic flame successfully blasted off Thursday from earth ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, center, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, bottom and U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, above, crew members of the next mission to the International Space Station, board a spacecraft prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The crew will deliver Olympic torch to space as part of the ongoing Olympic torch relay. The torch will be brought back along with the station’s current crew. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-11M space ship carrying new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The rocket carrying the Olympic flame successfully blasted off Thursday from earth ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-11M space ship carrying new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The rocket carrying the Olympic flame successfully blasted off Thursday from earth ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Soyuz-FG rocket is seen prior to the launch at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The crew of the space craft will deliver Olympic torch to space as part of the ongoing Olympic torch relay. The torch will be brought back along with the station’s current crew. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian rocket soared into the cosmos Thursday carrying the Sochi Olympic torch and three astronauts to the International Space Station ahead of the first-ever spacewalk for the symbol of peace.

Video streamed by the U.S. space agency NASA reported a flawless docking with the space station about six hours after the craft blasted off from Russia’s manned space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The unlit torch for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is to be taken on a spacewalk Saturday, then return to Earth on Monday (late Sunday EST) with three departing space station astronauts.

The arriving crew members Thursday were Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan.

Once the newcomers enter the space station following a long hatch-opening process, the orbiting lab will have nine people aboard for the first time since 2009. Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia, NASA’s Karen Nyberg and Italian Luca Parmitano are the crew scheduled to return to Earth with the torch via a Monday landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The Olympic torch will not burn onboard the space outpost because lighting it would consume precious oxygen and pose a threat to the crew. The crew will carry the unlit torch around the station’s numerous modules before taking it out on a spacewalk.

The Olympic torch was taken aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis in 1996 for the Atlanta Summer Olympics, but this is the first it time it will be taken outside a spacecraft.

“It’s a great pleasure and responsibility getting to work with this symbol of peace,” Tyurin told journalists on Wednesday before the launch.

Russians Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy will take the torch out of the space station on Saturday while American Michael Hopkins remains inside.

The four-month Sochi torch relay, which started in Moscow on Oct. 7, is the longest in the history of the Olympics. For most of the 65,000-kilometer (39,000-mile) route across Russia, it will travel by plane, train, car and even reindeer sleigh.

Some 14,000 torch bearers are taking part in the relay that stops at more than 130 cities and towns.

Last month, the Olympic flame traveled to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker. Later this month it will sink to the bottom of the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal. In early February, it will reach the peak of Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 meters (18,510 feet) the highest mountain in Russia and Europe.

The torch will be used to light the Olympic flame at Sochi’s stadium on Feb. 7, marking the start of the 2014 Winter Games that run until Feb. 23.

___

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/347875155d53465d95cec892aeb06419/Article_2013-11-07-OLY-Sochi-Torch-in-Space/id-fc6ccdaf58ca4d94b05009d80f75fa8e
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Cost-effective method accurately orders DNA sequencing along entire chromosomes

November 8th, 2013

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7-Nov-2013

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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@uw.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington


A major step toward improving the quality of rapid, inexpensive genome assembly

A new computational method has been shown to quickly assign, order and orient DNA sequencing information along entire chromosomes. The method may help overcome a major obstacle that has delayed progress in designing rapid, low-cost — but still accurate — ways to assemble genomes from scratch. Data gleaned through this new method can also validate certain types of chromosomal abnormalities in cancer, research findings indicate.

The advance was reported in Nature Biotechnology by several University of Washington scientists led by Dr. Jay Shendure, associate professor of genome sciences.

Existing technologies can quickly produce billions of “short reads” of segments of DNA at very low cost. Various approaches are currently used to put the pieces together to see how DNA segments line up to form larger stretches of the genetic code.

However, current methods produce a highly fragmented genome assembly, lacking long-range information about what sequences are near what other sequences, making further biological analysis difficult.

“Genome science has remained remarkably distant from routinely assembling genomes to the standards set by the Human Genome Project,” said the researchers. They noted that the Human Genome Project tapped into many different techniques to achieve its end result. Many of these are too expensive, technically difficult, and impractical for large-scale initiatives such as the Genome 10K Project, which aims to sequence and assemble the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species.

Members of the Shendure lab that developed what they hope will be a more scalable strategy were Joshua N. Burton, Andrew Adey, Rupali P. Patwardhan, Ruolan Qiu, and Jacob O. Kitzman.

To more completely assemble genomes, they tapped into a technology called Hi-C, which measures the three-dimensional architecture and physical territories of chromosomes within the nuclei of cells. Hi-C maps the physical interactions between regions of the chromosomes in a genome, including contact within a chromosome and with other chromosomes. The results indicate which regions tend to occur near each other within three-dimensional space in a cell’s nucleus.

The researchers speculated that this interaction data, because it offers clues about the position of and distances between various regions of the chromosome, might reveal how DNA sequences are grouped and lined up along entire chromosomes. They wondered if the interaction data could show them which regions of the genome are near each other on each chromosome.

Their investigation of this possibility led them to create what they named LACHESIS (an acronym for “ligating adjacent chromatin enables scaffolding in situ”). The map of physical interactions generated by Hi-C was interpreted by the LACHESIS computational program to assign, order and orient genomic sequences into their correct position along chromosomes, including DNA positioned close to the centromere, the “pinch waist” gap in the chromosome shape.

The researchers combined their new approach with other cheap and widely used sequencing methods to generate chromosome-scale assemblies of the human, mouse and fruit fly genomes. The researchers were able to cluster nearly all scaffolds — collections of short DNA segments whose position relative to each other is unknown — into groups that corresponded to individual chromosomes.

They then ordered and oriented the scaffolds assigned to each chromosome group, and validated their results by comparing them to the high-quality reference genomes for these species that were generated by the Human Genome Project. In the case of human genomes, they achieved 98 percent accuracy in assigning tens of thousands of sequences of contiguous DNA to chromosome groups and 99 percent accuracy in ordering and orienting these sequences within chromosome groups.

“We think the method may fundamentally change how we approach the assembly of new genomes with next-generation sequencing technologies,” noted Shendure.

While he and his team cite many areas in which the computational and experimental methods can be improved, the approach is an important step in his lab’s long-term goal to facilitate the assembly, for a variety of species, of low-cost, high-quality genomes that meet the rigorous standards set by the Human Genome Project.

###

The research was supported by grants HG006283 and T32HG000035 from the National Human Genome Research Institute, and graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation.



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7-Nov-2013

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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@uw.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington


A major step toward improving the quality of rapid, inexpensive genome assembly

A new computational method has been shown to quickly assign, order and orient DNA sequencing information along entire chromosomes. The method may help overcome a major obstacle that has delayed progress in designing rapid, low-cost — but still accurate — ways to assemble genomes from scratch. Data gleaned through this new method can also validate certain types of chromosomal abnormalities in cancer, research findings indicate.

The advance was reported in Nature Biotechnology by several University of Washington scientists led by Dr. Jay Shendure, associate professor of genome sciences.

Existing technologies can quickly produce billions of “short reads” of segments of DNA at very low cost. Various approaches are currently used to put the pieces together to see how DNA segments line up to form larger stretches of the genetic code.

However, current methods produce a highly fragmented genome assembly, lacking long-range information about what sequences are near what other sequences, making further biological analysis difficult.

“Genome science has remained remarkably distant from routinely assembling genomes to the standards set by the Human Genome Project,” said the researchers. They noted that the Human Genome Project tapped into many different techniques to achieve its end result. Many of these are too expensive, technically difficult, and impractical for large-scale initiatives such as the Genome 10K Project, which aims to sequence and assemble the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species.

Members of the Shendure lab that developed what they hope will be a more scalable strategy were Joshua N. Burton, Andrew Adey, Rupali P. Patwardhan, Ruolan Qiu, and Jacob O. Kitzman.

To more completely assemble genomes, they tapped into a technology called Hi-C, which measures the three-dimensional architecture and physical territories of chromosomes within the nuclei of cells. Hi-C maps the physical interactions between regions of the chromosomes in a genome, including contact within a chromosome and with other chromosomes. The results indicate which regions tend to occur near each other within three-dimensional space in a cell’s nucleus.

The researchers speculated that this interaction data, because it offers clues about the position of and distances between various regions of the chromosome, might reveal how DNA sequences are grouped and lined up along entire chromosomes. They wondered if the interaction data could show them which regions of the genome are near each other on each chromosome.

Their investigation of this possibility led them to create what they named LACHESIS (an acronym for “ligating adjacent chromatin enables scaffolding in situ”). The map of physical interactions generated by Hi-C was interpreted by the LACHESIS computational program to assign, order and orient genomic sequences into their correct position along chromosomes, including DNA positioned close to the centromere, the “pinch waist” gap in the chromosome shape.

The researchers combined their new approach with other cheap and widely used sequencing methods to generate chromosome-scale assemblies of the human, mouse and fruit fly genomes. The researchers were able to cluster nearly all scaffolds — collections of short DNA segments whose position relative to each other is unknown — into groups that corresponded to individual chromosomes.

They then ordered and oriented the scaffolds assigned to each chromosome group, and validated their results by comparing them to the high-quality reference genomes for these species that were generated by the Human Genome Project. In the case of human genomes, they achieved 98 percent accuracy in assigning tens of thousands of sequences of contiguous DNA to chromosome groups and 99 percent accuracy in ordering and orienting these sequences within chromosome groups.

“We think the method may fundamentally change how we approach the assembly of new genomes with next-generation sequencing technologies,” noted Shendure.

While he and his team cite many areas in which the computational and experimental methods can be improved, the approach is an important step in his lab’s long-term goal to facilitate the assembly, for a variety of species, of low-cost, high-quality genomes that meet the rigorous standards set by the Human Genome Project.

###

The research was supported by grants HG006283 and T32HG000035 from the National Human Genome Research Institute, and graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation.



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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/uow-cma110713.php
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Big data blues: The dangers of data mining

November 5th, 2013

More than simply bits and bytes, big data is now a multibillion-dollar business opportunity. Savvy organizations, from retailers to manufacturers, are fast discovering the power of turning consumers’ ZIP codes and buying histories into bottom-line-enhancing insights.

In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of McKinsey & Co., estimates that big data can increase profits in the retail sector by a staggering 60 percent. And a recent Boston Consulting Group study reveals that personal data can help companies achieve greater business efficiencies and customize new products.

[ InfoWorld presents the Bossies 2013, the best open source software for clouds, mobile, developers, and more. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

But while harnessing the power of data analytics is clearly a competitive advantage, overzealous data mining can easily backfire. As companies become experts at slicing and dicing data to reveal details as personal as mortgage defaults and heart attack risks, the threat of egregious privacy violations grows.

Just ask Kord Davis. A digital strategist and author of Ethics of Big Data: Balancing Risk and Innovation, Davis says, “The values that you infuse into your data-handling practices can have some very real-world consequences.”

Take Nordstrom, for example. The upscale retailer used sensors from analytics vendor Euclid to cull shopping information from customers’ smartphones each time they connected to a store’s Wi-Fi service — a move that drew widespread criticism from privacy advocates. (Nordstrom is no longer using the analytics service.)

Hip clothing retailer Urban Outfitters is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly violating consumer protection laws by telling shoppers who pay by credit card that they had to provide their ZIP codes — which is not true — and then using that information to obtain the shoppers’ addresses. Facebook is often at the center of a data privacy controversy, whether it’s defending its own enigmatic privacy policies or responding to reports that it gave private user data to the National Security Agency (NSA). And the story of how retail behemoth Target was able to deduce that a teenage shopper was pregnant before her father even knew is the stuff of marketing legend.

Online finger-wagging, lawsuits, disgruntled customers — they’re the unfortunate byproducts of what many people perceive to be big data abuses. According to a September 2013 study from data privacy management company Truste, 1 of 3 Internet users say they have stopped using a company’s website or have stopped doing business with a company altogether because of privacy concerns.

Source: http://www.infoworld.com/d/business-intelligence/big-data-blues-the-dangers-of-data-mining-230107?source=rss_business_intelligence
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CU-Boulder-led team gets first look at diverse life below rare tallgrass prairies

November 1st, 2013

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31-Oct-2013

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Contact: Noah Fierer
Noah.Fierer@colorado.edu
303-492-5615
University of Colorado at Boulder



America’s once-abundant tallgrass prairieswhich have all but disappearedwere home to dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers, and herds of roaming bison.

For the first time, a research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has gotten a peek at another vitally important but rarely considered community that also once called the tallgrass prairie home: the diverse assortment of microbes that thrived in the dark, rich soils beneath the grass.

“These soils played a huge role in American history because they were so fertile and so incredibly productive,” said Noah Fierer, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science. “They don’t exist anymore except in really small parcels. This is our first glimpse into what might have existed across the whole range.”

CIRES is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The remarkable fertility of soils beneath the tallgrass prairiewhich once covered more than 150 million U.S. acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraskawere also the prairie’s undoing. Attracted by the richness of the dirt, settlers began to plow up the prairie more than a century and a half ago, replacing the native plants with corn, wheat, soybeans and other crops. Today, only remnants of the tallgrass prairie remain, covering just a few percent of the ecosystem’s original range.

For the study, Fierer, an associate professor of microbial ecology, and his colleagues used samples of soil collected from 31 different sites spread out across the prairie’s historical range. The sampleswhich were collected by study co-author Rebecca McCulley, a grassland ecologist at the University of Kentuckycame largely from nature preserves and old cemeteries.



“It was very hard to find sites that we knew had never been tilled,” Fierer said. “As soon as you till a soil, it’s totally different. Most gardeners are familiar with that.”

The researchers used DNA sequencing to characterize the microbial community living in each soil sample. The results showed that a poorly understood phylum of bacteria, Verrucomicrobia, dominated the microbial communities in the soil.

“We have these soils that are dominated by this one group that we really don’t know anything about,” Fierer said. “Why is it so abundant in these soils? We don’t know.”

While Verrucomicrobia were dominant across the soil samples, the microbial makeup of each particular soil sample was unique. To get an idea of how soil microbial diversity might have varied across the tallgrass prairie when it was still an intact ecosystem, the researchers built a model based on climate information and the data from the samples.

“I am thrilled that we were able to accurately reconstruct the microbial component of prairie soils using statistical modeling and data from the few remaining snippets of this vanishing ecosystem,” said Katherine Pollard, an investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and a co-author of the paper.



Fierer and his colleagues are already hard at work trying to grow Verrucomicrobia in the lab to better understand what it does and the conditions it favors. But even without a full understanding of the microbes, the research could bolster tallgrass prairie restoration efforts in the future.

“Here’s a group that’s really critical in the functioning of these soils. So if you’re trying to have effective prairie restoration, it may be useful to try and restore the below-ground diversity as well,” Fierer said.

###

CU-Boulder co-authors on the paper include Jonathan Leff, also of CIRES and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Other co-authors are Joshua Ladau of the Gladstone Institutes; Jose Clemente, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York; and Sarah Owens and Jack Gilbert, both of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA National Research Initiative.



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31-Oct-2013

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Contact: Noah Fierer
Noah.Fierer@colorado.edu
303-492-5615
University of Colorado at Boulder



America’s once-abundant tallgrass prairieswhich have all but disappearedwere home to dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers, and herds of roaming bison.

For the first time, a research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has gotten a peek at another vitally important but rarely considered community that also once called the tallgrass prairie home: the diverse assortment of microbes that thrived in the dark, rich soils beneath the grass.

“These soils played a huge role in American history because they were so fertile and so incredibly productive,” said Noah Fierer, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science. “They don’t exist anymore except in really small parcels. This is our first glimpse into what might have existed across the whole range.”

CIRES is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The remarkable fertility of soils beneath the tallgrass prairiewhich once covered more than 150 million U.S. acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraskawere also the prairie’s undoing. Attracted by the richness of the dirt, settlers began to plow up the prairie more than a century and a half ago, replacing the native plants with corn, wheat, soybeans and other crops. Today, only remnants of the tallgrass prairie remain, covering just a few percent of the ecosystem’s original range.

For the study, Fierer, an associate professor of microbial ecology, and his colleagues used samples of soil collected from 31 different sites spread out across the prairie’s historical range. The sampleswhich were collected by study co-author Rebecca McCulley, a grassland ecologist at the University of Kentuckycame largely from nature preserves and old cemeteries.



“It was very hard to find sites that we knew had never been tilled,” Fierer said. “As soon as you till a soil, it’s totally different. Most gardeners are familiar with that.”

The researchers used DNA sequencing to characterize the microbial community living in each soil sample. The results showed that a poorly understood phylum of bacteria, Verrucomicrobia, dominated the microbial communities in the soil.

“We have these soils that are dominated by this one group that we really don’t know anything about,” Fierer said. “Why is it so abundant in these soils? We don’t know.”

While Verrucomicrobia were dominant across the soil samples, the microbial makeup of each particular soil sample was unique. To get an idea of how soil microbial diversity might have varied across the tallgrass prairie when it was still an intact ecosystem, the researchers built a model based on climate information and the data from the samples.

“I am thrilled that we were able to accurately reconstruct the microbial component of prairie soils using statistical modeling and data from the few remaining snippets of this vanishing ecosystem,” said Katherine Pollard, an investigator at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and a co-author of the paper.



Fierer and his colleagues are already hard at work trying to grow Verrucomicrobia in the lab to better understand what it does and the conditions it favors. But even without a full understanding of the microbes, the research could bolster tallgrass prairie restoration efforts in the future.

“Here’s a group that’s really critical in the functioning of these soils. So if you’re trying to have effective prairie restoration, it may be useful to try and restore the below-ground diversity as well,” Fierer said.

###

CU-Boulder co-authors on the paper include Jonathan Leff, also of CIRES and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Other co-authors are Joshua Ladau of the Gladstone Institutes; Jose Clemente, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York; and Sarah Owens and Jack Gilbert, both of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA National Research Initiative.



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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-10/uoca-ctg102913.php
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