Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

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ESD and Living Ground-Cover Crusts

Source:  LBNL TABL and Dan Hawkes

This looks like ordinary dirt but it is a biological soil crust (BSC), a living mantle of soil particles bound together by microbes and their by-products. BSCs are common to the arid and semiarid lands that make up about 40-percent of Earth’s total land mass. (Photo from Ferran Garcia-Pichel)
ESD’s Ulisses Nunes Da Rocha, Nick Bouskill and Eoin Brodie are part of a cross-LBNL-divisional research team performing molecular-level analysis of desert biological soil crusts—living ground cover formed by microbial communities. Their study revealed how long-dormant cyanobacteria become activated by rainfall, then resume dormancy when the precipitation stops. 

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Citation: Rajeev, L., U. Nunes da Rocha, N. Klitgord, E. Luning, J. Fortney, S. Axen, P. Shih, N. Bouskill, B. Bowen, C. Kerfeld, F. Garcia-Pichel, E. Brodie, and A. Mukhopadhyay  (2013), Dynamic cyanobacterial response to hydration and dehydration in a desert biological soil crust. ISME, DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2013.83.