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Archive Sewage!

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.

Abstract

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.

PHE student earns 1st place in science fair

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!

Quantifying forest change in the European Union

Iddo Wernick, our long-time collaborator Pekka Kauppi, and other forestry experts published Quantifying forest change in the European Union in Nature vol 592 pages E13–E14 (2021). The authors argue that net carbon stored in the EU continues to increase as forest volume accumulates faster than additions to (and fluctuations in) the annual harvest.

For some of our earlier forest work, see PNAS publishes Forests paper and Quandaries of forest area, volume, biomass, and carbon explored with the forest identity.

As plant and animal diversity wanes, is microbial life changing too?

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



Big Russian popular review of Deep Biosphere

We just came across this 9 Dec 2019 beautifully illustrated review of the work of the Deep Carbon Observatory, especially its work on the deep biosphere, a subject in which Russian and Ukrainian scientists have made important contributions since Mendeleev. Jesse Ausubel is quoted near the end of the article.

How they live where almost nobody lives: the dark side of the biosphere Life exists at a depth of several kilometers, in the hot and oxygen-deprived bowels of the Earth – and thrives there, completely uninterested in anything that happens here, above.

2020 declared Year of Quiet Ocean – News from International Quiet Ocean Experiment

The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research has issued the 7th Newsletter chronicling the progress of the International Quiet Ocean Experiment, which helped spur this Press Release reporting on the progress, including the MANTA software and the data archive.

Some coverage:

The Guardian, United Kingdom, Pandemic made 2020 ‘the year of the quiet ocean’, say scientists especially good article!

Agence France Presse Lull in shipping activity gives scientists chance to listen to sounds of the ocean https://ca.news.yahoo.com/lull-shipping-activity-gives-scientists-042755282.html
German: Internationales Forscherteam untersucht Tierlaute im Ozean während Corona-Krise  https://de.nachrichten.yahoo.com/internationales-forscherteam-untersucht-tierlaute-ozean-214115152.html
French: Un réseau mondial d’écoute sur les océans apaisé par Covid https://yourtopia.fr/un-reseau-mondial-decoute-sur-les-oceans-apaise-par-covid-france-24/

BBC News Online, Ocean noise: Study to measure the oceans’ ‘year of quiet’ https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56676820
BBC World Service Radio, 1st story, with Ed Urban (here)

Agencia Efe,Científicos aprovechan la pandemia para hacer un mapa del sonido de los mares

Gizmodo, United States  International Project Will See How Quiet of Covid-19 Affected Oceans https://earther.gizmodo.com/international-project-will-see-how-the-quiet-of-covid-1-1846630821

IndoAsian News Service, India Amid slowdown, scientists assess changes in marine life behaviour  https://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a1148781.html

Down To Earth magazine, India What happened when the oceans went quiet during the pandemic? Scientists set to find out  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/what-happened-when-the-oceans-went-quiet-during-the-pandemic-scientists-set-to-find-out-76387

The National News, United Arab Emirates Oceans silenced by Covid to reveal impact of human activity on marine life https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/oceans-silenced-by-covid-to-reveal-impact-of-human-activity-on-marine-life-1.1199684

COSMOS Magazine, Australia Year of the quiet ocean https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/oceans/year-of-the-quiet-ocean/

Courthouse News Service, United States Emerging Ocean Listening Network Will Study Seas Uniquely Quieted by Covid https://www.courthousenews.com/emerging-ocean-listening-network-will-study-seas-uniquely-quieted-by-covid/

Heidi News, La pandémie accélère la recherche sur le bruit dans les oceans par Florent Hiard, French Switzerland

Inter Press Service Opinion Studying Marine Life’s Brief Break from Human Noise by Jesse Ausubel and Ed Urban

Baidu, People’s Republic of China, The “Year of Quiet Sea” created by COVID-19: How does the sound of the ocean environment change under the epidemic?