Rare Tallgrass Prairies Hold Diverse Life Just Beneath the Surface

November 1, 2013 4:14 PM

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Rare Tallgrass Prairies Hold Diverse Life Just Beneath the Surface

Tallgrass prairies once spread across the vast plains of America, providing a home to dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers and herds of roaming bison. Yet these prairies also hosted other species--some that weren't as easily seen. Now, scientists have gotten a closer peek at a vitally important community of tallgrass prairies: the diverse assortment of microbes that thrived in the rich soils beneath the grass.

"These soils played a huge role in American history because they were so fertile and so incredibly productive," said Noah Fierer, one of the researchers, in a news release. "They don't exist anymore except in really small parcels. This is our first glimpse into what might have existed across the who...

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