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.

The Great Plate ‘Debate’ – why we care and what we know about gaps in culture collections

By: Noah Fierer April 11, 2019 It is a seemingly simple question: What percentage of bacterial and archaeal taxa in a given sample have been cultivated? Or, to phrase this another way: How well do our pre-existing culture collections cover the breadth of prokaryotic1 diversity found in environmental or host-associated samples? This topic may seem

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The ‘hidden’ costs of microbial community analyses

February 13th, 2019 By: Noah Fierer DNA sequencing is clearly a powerful tool for analyzing microbial communities. It is now somewhat routine to take a sample of feces, tap water, or bellybutton lint and use DNA sequencing-based approaches to analyze the microbes living therein. We also know that the cost of generating DNA sequence data

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Garbage in, garbage out: Wrestling with contamination in microbial sequencing projects

August 15th, 2018 By: Noah Fierer, Jessica Henley, and Matt Gebert   They are insidious. They are difficult to eliminate. They strike fear in the hearts of microbiologists worldwide.  Hard drive failures? Third reviewers? Bedbugs lurking in conference hotels? Nope. Contaminants in your high-throughput sequence data. High-throughput sequencing approaches are now routinely used to characterize

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Do all animals need microbes?

By Tobin Hammer, Jon Sanders, & Noah Fierer May 18th, 2018 NOTE: A more complete discussion of these ideas is now available in the corresponding publication (available here). 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

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