DNA sequencing, microbial indicators, and the discovery of buried kimberlites
Crowe lab
Crowe Lab
Rachel L. Simister, Bianca P. Iulianella Phillips, Andrew P. Wickham, Erika M. Cayer, Craig J. R. Hart, Peter A. Winterburn & Sean A. Crowe

Publication: DNA sequencing, microbial indicators, and the discovery of buried kimberlites 


Abstract: Population growth and technological advancements are placing growing demand on mineral resources. New and innovative exploration technologies that improve detection of deeply buried mineralization and host rocks are required to meet these demands. Here we used diamondiferous kimberlite ore bodies as a test case and show that DNA amplicon sequencing of soil microbial communities resolves anomalies in microbial community composition and structure that reflect the surface expression of kimberlites buried under 10 s of meters of overburden. Indicator species derived from laboratory amendment experiments were employed in an exploration survey in which the species distributions effectively delineated the surface expression of buried kimberlites. Additional indicator species derived directly from field observations improved the blind discovery of kimberlites buried beneath similar overburden types. Application of DNA sequence-based analyses of soil microbial communities to mineral deposit exploration provides a powerful illustration of how genomics technologies can be leveraged in the discovery of critical new resources.