Molecular Observation Network

Standardizing molecular and microscale soil data across the nation's ecoregions


Soils play a vital role in the global carbon cycle. But ecological processes that determine whether carbon is released into the atmosphere or stays in soils are complicated. These complexities make it difficult to predict and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) is leading an effort to improve the understanding around the molecular and microscale processes of carbon in soils. Through the creation of the Molecular Observation Network (MONet), EMSL is collecting thousands of soil samples to develop a comprehensive database of molecular and microscale information on the composition and structure of soils, water, microbial communities, and biogenic emissions. This database allows traditionally labor-intensive molecular analysis methods to be converted into a high-throughput workflow. This provides important molecular and microscale information to climate scientists, modelers, and experimenters.​

Video: Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

EMSL is collaborating with partners who manage an expanding network of selected natural, urban, and managed watershed, coastal, continental, and atmospheric sites, both experimental and observational. 

The Joint Genome Institute (JGI) will perform and prepare sequencing, metagenome analyses, MONet samples, assembly files, and annotation. Data will be publicly accessible and available for download from the EMSL MONet database and through JGI’s portals.

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 The National Science Foundation's National Ecological Observatory Network will provide a network of field and observational sites to facilitate sampling and sensing opportunities.

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The National Microbiome Data Collaborative will support findability and accessibility of MONet microbiome metadata.