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Current methods in soil microbial ecology
Convener: Stefano Mocali  | Co-Conveners: Lily Pereg (deceased), Evgenia Blagodatskaya , Hannes Schmidt 
 / Tue, 19 Apr, 08:30–10:00

"The past decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number and efficiency of methods for determining microbial diversity, abundance and functions. Indeed, the evolution of molecular methods to replace some of the transitional cultural-based techniques was very fast. Over the past 15 years molecular techniques have mainly relied on the 16S and 18S rRNA (or ITS) encoding sequences (DGGE, T-RFLP, OFRG, ARISA, SSCP,etc.) as well as on techniques based on the cellular composition of the microbes (PLFA composition, CLPP, etc.), with more recent major advances in microbial community analysis employing high-throughput sequencing and microarrays. While the diversity of microbial communities can be determined using DNA-based techniques, the activity of microorganisms requires the analysis of gene expression and the production of RNA. The analysis of the latter is much more complicated due to the instability of RNA molecules and the fast changes in RNA within the cells.
Furthermore, despite many so-called "omics" approaches are commonly used (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.), new challenges are coming out and require to be faced. Therefore, it has become increasingly important to combine a number of basic and newly developed bio-indicators to be used as benchmarks in environmental remediation and to monitor soil quality in soils subjected to degradation risk. These various techniques and approaches will be a key focus of this session, with particular attention to the potential for each as well as their limitations."