Weddings—a coming together of microbiomes.
Contributed by Poyin Chen
For my upcoming wedding, we will have a tree planting ceremony. As part of the ceremony, we will be planting our little love tree in soil from both of our families’ homes…a little from the Bay Area, and a little from Michigan.
Similar to how each person’s microbiome is unique, soil from different areas will have its unique mixture of microorganisms. What this mixture is is largely dependent on the surrounding environment. Perhaps my mom’s questionable homemade (fermented) fertilizer contributed some acid tolerant bacteria to our garden soil. Perhaps the drought conditions in California have favored the enrichment of bacteria resistant to dry conditions. These bacteria likely have thicker cell walls to withstand harsher conditions; maybe there are more bacterial spores in my Bay Area sample.
The soil we collected from Michigan was from under a mossy tree while the rain came down on us. Who knows which microbes were taking advantage of the wet conditions with some celebratory replication? One can only speculate on the small molecules being released by the tree’s root system and how they are influencing the structure and diversity of the surrounding soil microbiome.
I like to think that when we introduce our Bay Area and Michigan soil samples to each other under our little love tree, we will be initiating an intense, microscopic battle for resources. There will be rapid shifts in bacterial diversity in the days to come, and maybe even some bacteriocin production! When the dust settles, the outcome will be our own unique blend of soil microbiome underneath our love tree.