Introducing Biogeography 2

It’s bigger, it’s better, it’s Biogeography 2!

About a year ago I started an Intra-plant biogeography project. Limited in scope, this project’s primary aim was to determine how much variation there was in the microbial communities across a single plant in “high resolution.” The goal was to determine whether it mattered where our ZEN collaborators cut their samples from along the roots and leaves.

The general project was this: Cut a plant into about 50 strategically chosen pieces and look at the community variation across the surface.

We got some really interesting results which I presented in a poster at the 2014 Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomics Conference.

One thing that always bothered me about these results were that they were for only one plant. I didn’t know if the cool patterns I was seeing were normal or a fluke. That’s where Biogeography 2 comes in, it’s a continuation of the first project but with more replicates (five, to be precise) all collected at the same time and from the same place. In the coming weeks I’ll be processing these samples and updating you about the progress.

This week’s update:

This week I finally was able to mutilate  dissect the plants and now we can begin extracting DNA from the samples. Here are some pictures of plants prior to dissection.


For a plant that withstands daily tidal forces, seagrass are surprisingly delicate when taken out of water. When they dry out, they crumble so I try to section them as fast as possible to prevent drying.


Sample preparation includes painstakingly disentangling these roots from each other and from the shoots without breaking them. (About a 2 hour process per plant).

About Hannah Holland-Moritz

Hannah Holland-Moritz is a graduate student working in Noah Fierer’s lab. She graduated from UC Davis in June 2014 with a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minor in Bioinformatics and most recently spend a gap year working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on the microbiome of seagrasses. Interested in Evolution, Ecology, Bioinformatics and all things microbial, she plans to pursue a career in research.

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