Far-reaching science with far-reaching applications.
MicroBlitz is a local University of Western Australia (UWA) project with a globally significant agenda. With an army of citizen scientists across Western Australia conducting in-the-field soil sampling, this unique environmental survey and research project – led by Winthrop Professor Andrew Whiteley – will revolutionise the way we think about sustainability and the environment.
Microscopic organisms and the biggest challenges facing the world.
Professor Whiteley’s research is as ambitious as it is vital. His goal: To create a map of the diversity and distribution of microbial life across Western Australia.
By engaging citizen scientists throughout the state in the task of sampling soil, Andy and the MicroBlitz team will be able to analyse thousands of samples and create a map based on microbial DNA. With microscopic organisms (such as bacteria and fungi) playing a pivotal ecological and environmental role, not least in terms of regulating greenhouse gases and removing toxins from the soil, it’s an important map that will have far-reaching benefits.
Decoding Earth’s environmental genome.
The MicroBlitz map will become a baseline for monitoring the health of WA’s environment and, in turn, inform strategies and initiatives to address big-picture sustainability issues, such as climate change and food security.
Our team’s research will make a significant contribution towards decoding the planet’s ‘environmental genome’, in much the same way the human genome was unravelled to understand how we as humans work.
From the UK to Australia’s largest state.
While the sheer size and scale of the MicroBlitz project in WA makes it unique, Andy has extensive experience in microbial DNA sequencing, surveying and research.
Following the success of a similar environmental survey in the UK – albeit on a smaller geographical scale – Andy has brought his research to UWA and Australia under the WAPF Program, set up by WA’s State Government to attract pioneering, world-leading research to WA.
In the UK, he led a team of researchers that effectively decoded the environmental genome of UK soils. His team took samples at a five-kilometre resolution and then analysed them in the lab using the latest DNA sequencing technology to identify the dominant microbial species, creating a map of microbial life across the UK.
Biotechnology: The key to super-sizing
Find out more about UWA and our home at the School of Earth and Environment, or learn more about the exciting MicroBlitz program, whether you want to meet our team or join them and become a MicroBlitzer.