Assessing microbial diversity in soil samples along the Potomac River: implications for environmental health

Taraboletti, Alexandra, King, Alexus, Dixon, Yasheka, Orr, Oshane, Parnell, Chevell, Watson, Yasheika, Nash, Bruce, Esimai, Chimdimnma, Ude, George (October 2023) Assessing microbial diversity in soil samples along the Potomac River: implications for environmental health. Microbiology Spectrum. e0254023. ISSN 2165-0497

[thumbnail of taraboletti-et-al-2023-assessing-microbial-diversity-in-soil-samples-along-the-potomac-river-implications-for.pdf] PDF
taraboletti-et-al-2023-assessing-microbial-diversity-in-soil-samples-along-the-potomac-river-implications-for.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)
DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.02540-23


In this study, we investigated the microbial diversity and community composition of soil samples collected from various sites along the Potomac River within an urbanized region. The study integrates microbial analysis into an undergraduate chemistry curriculum, bridging theoretical education with practical, real-world applications. Our findings revealed the presence of both typical marine soil bacteria and bacterial taxa indicative of urbanization and waste runoff. Notably, the identified taxa shared among all samples demonstrated a strong presence of Burkholderiaceae, Nitrosomonadaceae, and Pedosphaeraceae, which are associated with agricultural pollution, organochlorine pesticide contamination, and bromochloromethane pollution. We observed significant variations in microbial community diversity across different sampling sites, emphasizing the influence of environmental factors on microbial abundance and diversity. These insights carry significant implications for understanding the consequences of urbanization on soil microbial communities along the Potomac River and can inform strategies for managing and preserving these ecosystems. Further research is warranted to elucidate the effects of soil health and microbial diversity in this region. IMPORTANCE This study integrates microbial analysis into an undergraduate chemistry class, offering students a hands-on approach to environmental research. We examined the soil along the urbanized Potomac River, discovering a mix of common marine microbes and others that are indicators of urban waste and pollution. Our findings provide valuable insights into the environmental impacts of urbanization on soil health and reveal the effectiveness of using modern genetic tools to teach students about real-world issues. This innovative educational approach not only deepens students' understanding of chemistry and ecology but also prepares them to be thoughtful, informed participants in addressing contemporary environmental challenges while shedding light on the state of the soil microbiome near and around the DC metro area.

Item Type: Paper
CSHL Authors:
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: 24 October 2023
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2023 12:58
Last Modified: 28 Dec 2023 19:54
PMCID: PMC10714937
Related URLs:

Actions (login required)

Administrator's edit/view item Administrator's edit/view item
CSHL HomeAbout CSHLResearchEducationNews & FeaturesCampus & Public EventsCareersGiving