Fierer Lab

Exploring the structure and function of microbial communities

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Insights, rants, shameless self promotion, etc. from the Fierer lab and its affiliates.

Do all animals need microbes?

By Tobin Hammer, Jon Sanders, & Noah Fierer May 18th, 2018   Have you—like us—ever written a paper or grant proposal with a statement along the lines of “All animals host microbial symbionts that play critical roles in many aspects of host ecology, behavior, and development”? If so, this blog post is for you. We

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Is RNA a useful measure of microbial activity?

December 20, 2017 By Noah Fierer Let’s say a microbial ecologist wants to identify which bacteria are active in a given environmental sample at a given point in time. For example, you may want to determine which bacteria are active in a desert soil after a large rainfall event. This is often done by comparing

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Intragenomic heterogeneity and its implications for ESVs

By Angela Oliverio and Noah Fierer October 9, 2017 In a recent blog post, we focused on the advantages and disadvantages of using exact sequence variants (ESVs) versus OTUs to cluster marker gene sequences for microbial community analyses. Just to recap – let’s say we sequenced a pool of 16S rRNA genes from a bacterial

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Lumping versus splitting – is it time for microbial ecologists to abandon OTUs?

By Noah Fierer, Tess Brewer, & Mallory Choudoir May 2, 2017 Typically, when we analyze 16S rRNA gene data for bacterial and archaeal community analyses we start by clustering sequences into operational taxonomic units (OTUs), i.e. clustering sequences that fall into fixed similarity thresholds (with OTUs often, but not always, defined at the ≥97% sequence

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