PHE Guest Investigator David Thaler and RU colleague Tom Sakmar publish open access in BMC Infectious Diseases 21, Article #601 (2021) ‘Archiving time series sewage samples as biological records of built environments.” The idea for the article arose during our 2020 twice-weekly PHE Zooms. It is rooted in part in Paula Olsiewski’s completed Sloan Foundation program on the Microbiology of the Built Environment, to which David contributed. It also links to the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project, to which both David and Tom belong, and which searches for biological relics from times past and also explores how better to preserve recent traces of DNA and RNA.
This commentary encourages the regular archiving of nucleic-acid-stabilized serial samples of wastewaters and/or sewage. Stabilized samples would facilitate retrospective reconstitution of built environments’ biological fluids. Biological time capsules would allow retrospective searches for nucleic acids from viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Current resources for testing need not be diverted if samples are saved in case they become important in the future. Systematic storage would facilitate investigation into the origin and prevalence of viruses and other agents. Comparison of prevalence data from individual and clinical samplings with community wastewater would allow valuable comparison, contrast and correlation among different testing modalities. Current interest is focused on SARS-CoV-2, but archived samples could become valuable in many contexts including surveys for other infectious and chemical agents whose identity is not currently known. Archived time series of wastewater will take their place alongside other biological repositories and records including those from medical facilities, museums, eDNA, living cell and tissue collections. Together these will prove invaluable records of the evolving Anthropocene.
Ossining NY high school sophomore Samara Davis, with guidance from PHE’s Mark Stoeckle, earned 1st place in the Somers/Westlake Science Fair for her project Environmental DNA Analysis to Determine Population Characteristics of Elusive Ephemeral Pool-Breeding Mole Salamanders, in Relation to the Effects of Climate Change. Congratulations to Samara! Thanks, Mark!
The Great Global Fish Count, a Potential Project of the UN Ocean Decade by Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle appears in the Marine Technology Society Journal, Volume 55, Number 3, May/June 2021, pp. 116-117(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.55.3.4
PHE Guest Investigator and microbiologist David Thaler has published the paper, “Is global microbial biodiversity increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?” in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. The answer is, we do not know.
The paper arose from Zoom discussions PHE began holding every Tuesday and Thursday noon during COVID lockdown of our NYC group members with colleagues in California, Israel, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Bravo to David for asking a bold question and putting it onto the research agenda. Thanks to Gary Borisy (Forsyth Institute) and Jessica Mark Welch (Marine Biological Laboratory) for sharing images. A Press Release from the journal summarize the paper.
The Guardian, Microbes are ‘unknown unknowns’ despite being vital to all life, says study (another excellent article from Guardian science reporters!)
Agencia EFE, Spain, Un estudio resalta la “profunda ignorancia” de la biodiversidad de microbiosAargauer Zeitung, Switzerland, Biologie – Gilt das Artensterben auch für die Mikroben?
IndoAsian News Service, India Is microbial life, including viruses, changing too?
COSMOS Magazine, Australia The great unknown of global microbial diversity
Mongabay, ‘Profound ignorance’: Microbes, a missing piece in the biodiversity puzzle by Ian Morse on 26 April 2021
24 March 2021 Jesse Ausubel formed part of a lively 70-minute panel discussion on Oceans with
Ms. Maya Gabeira, Big Wave Surfer, 2X World Record Holder, Oceana Ambassador
Mr. Romain Troublé, Director-General, Tara Foundation
Mr. David Eades, Chief Presenter, BBC TV News, Moderator 1
Ms. Taylor Goelz, Program Manager, Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, Aspen Institute | Member, Ocean Decade Early Career Ocean Professional Informal Working Group, Moderator 2
The full 4’42” video of the UNESCO Forum on Biodiversity: On the road to Kunming is here on YouTube.
The Ocean session starts at 1:57 and lasts to 3:09. Jesse’s opening remarks (about better measurement of abundance of ocean life) start at 2:07 (3 minutes) and his pitch for soundscapes is at 2:41:35 (1.5 minutes). The entire session is good listening (and some video too).
The lively website Real Clear Science publishes Jesse Ausubel’s short essay Time to Measure the Abundance of Ocean Life prepared for the 24 March 2021 UNESCO FORUM: Our Planet, Our future
Maritime Executive also shares the piece as an Op-Ed: Time to Measure the Abundance of Ocean Life.
The excellent magazine and website Maritime Executive runs an editorial by Jesse Ausubel and Alan Curry How eDNA Could be a Cornerstone of the New Blue Economy The essay draws on their chapter in the forthcoming book: Preparing a Workforce for the New Blue Economy: People, Products and Policies, Liesl Hotaling and Richard W. Spinrad (eds).
We post the concept paper for the Great Global Fish Count and the 5 slides Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle prepared for the Ocean Studies Board virtual meeting to discuss “ocean shots” for the new Ocean Decade. The video of Jesse’s 10-minute talk starts at 24’10” of the Feb 3 Ocean Decade Plenary 2 session of video showcase of the Ocean Decade: U.S. Launch Meeting February 3-4, 2021.
The USA Ocean Decade Ocean-Shots site is here.
Here is the list of 87 Ocean-Shot ideas.
The journal of the Marine Technology Society will publish a special issue with short articles on many of the ideas. This is our 2-page version of the GGFC.
Marking the 10th anniversary of the completion of the first Census of Marine Life, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership organized a virtual symposium 26 January 2021: Observing Life in a Changing Ocean Exploring a Census of Marine Life Today. Jesse Ausubel gave the opening talk, a 25-minute retrospective on the CoML. We post a pdf of the slides here.
We highly recommend re-visiting the concluding report of the CoML, Highlights of a Decade of Discovery, and much other material still available at www.coml.org