Soil Metagenomics to identify indicators of soil degradation in the Bolivian Highlands
The Bolivian Highlands (approximately 4000 masl) are experiencing changes in agricultural practices due in part to climate change and economic pressures. Traditional fallow periods are being shortened in an effort to increase yield, but this may be at the expense of soil quality. We will study soil microbial metagenomics using pyrosequencing methods, which allow us to place hundreds of thousands of individual microbes in taxonomic categories. Our goal is to identify microbes that may serve as indicators for the process of soil degradation and to understand the response of soil microbial communities to changing land management practices.