Seminar Details:

LANS Informal Seminar
"The Earth Microbiome Project: A new paradigm in geospatial and temporal studies of microbial ecology"

DATE: April 18, 2012

TIME: 15:00:00 - 16:00:00
SPEAKER: Jack Gilbert, Assistant Professor, Dept of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago and ANL
LOCATION: Building 240, 1404-1405, Argonne National Laboratory

For three decades we have had the capability to take a molecular peak at microbial life on our planet. However, it is only within the last few years that it has become possible to explore the microbial earth with any semblance of depth. With these exciting new technologies comes great responsibility; not least of these is the necessity to appropriately record information about each study. Here we present the Earth Microbiome Project ( ), an international effort to redefine our exploration of this frontier. Here we will outline the project aims and goals, and explain why and how the paradigm shift must occur. There are more bacteria in the oceans alone than stars in the known universe, and hence we need a systematic and defined approach to survey this biosphere. Importantly, a survey is only as good as the analysis of the data. Here we will employ revolutionary new algorithms to explore the synergy between existing data and new data to explore overlap and identify gaps in knowledge. Additionally, through metagenomic sequencing we will create a metabolic map of microbial life on this planet, which will shape and define our perspective of how life responds and adapts to changes in the environment. The preliminary EMP projects will be discussed in terms of their immediately findings and how much they tell us about the task ahead. O’Dors Law of Biology states that “Physics and chemistry have laws, while biology only has lawyers looking for loopholes”. It is essential that we better define these biological laws and help to reduce the knowledge gap that prevents us from managing the resources of this planet effectively.


Please send questions or suggestions to Jeffrey Larson: jmlarson at anl dot gov.