Genetic Analysis of Microbial Community Structure in Soils from the Hell Gap Witness Block


This is an abstract from the "Hell Gap at 60: Myth? Reality? What Has It Taught Us?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Paleomicrobiology is probably best known as an approach that yields anthropological findings connected to human health and disease, such as long-term records of oral microbiomes recovered from ancient dental calculus. However, the tools of microbial ecology have been tested for their potential to address other anthropological questions and aid in paleoclimatic reconstruction and dating. The latter category includes an experimental approach (Trophic Group Method) that assumes the physiological properties of present-day bacteria in buried paleosols can serve as indicators of climate aridity at the time of soil formation. The method was first systematically tested on samples collected from the Hell Gap Witness Block (Grund et al., 2014; Viable paleosol microorganisms, paleoclimatic reconstruction, and relative dating in archaeology: a test case from Hell Gap, Wyoming, USA; J. Archaeological Science 46:217-228). This intriguing study prompted us to explore alternative paleomicrobiological methods that directly analyze cellular macromolecules without prior bacterial cultivation to better understand the relationship between extant bacteria and past climate. We will report on microbial community structure in a Hell Gap soil column collected from the north wall of the Witness Block in 2018. Community composition is being determined through high-throughput DNA sequencing of biomarker genes for bacteria and fungi.

Cite this Record

Genetic Analysis of Microbial Community Structure in Soils from the Hell Gap Witness Block. Naomi Ward, Macy Ricketts, Rachael Shimek, Mary Lou Larson, Marcel Kornfeld. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452197)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24250