For Biology Week 2012, Chris Packham is helping scientists to unlock the secrets of soil by unravelling its genetic fingerprint. His garden soil has had its 'DNA' sequenced in a race against the clock, to highlight both the rapid advances in DNA sequencing technology and its expanding range of uses in biological science.
The data unearthed which microorganisms are in the soil and what they do. This cutting edge soil analysis, known as 'metagenomics', is still in its infancy but could offer great benefits for agriculture, helping us to understand how soil works, how climate and farming can affect soil systems, and how to ensure productivity and sustainability.
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