Exploration of microbial communities in tropical lowlands in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Valeria Verrone
Valeria Verrone
Sulawesi, Indonesia
project abstract

Sulawesi is an island located between two oceanic trenches that separate the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Due to its geographic isolation and extraordinary geology, Sulawesi has developed very distinctive flora and fauna, becoming a hotspot of endemic species (Whitten et al., 2002, Middleton et al 2019, Butarbutar et al., 2022). Two distinct ecoregions can be found in Sulawesi: lowland rain forest (LRF) and montane rain forest. For our sampling campaign we have identified a location for its unique concentration of endemic and threatened species: Rawa Aopa Watumohai National Park (in LRF, South East Sulawesi). The park presents mangrove forests, coastal forests, savanna freshwater swamp forests, which are our main focus for this research. We will collect soil samples, vegetation and mushroom specimens. DNA will be extracted from soil samples, and ITS, SSU and 16S rRNA regions will be amplified and sequenced with Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) MinION. We expect that the remarkable diversity found in flora and fauna is reflected in the underground microbial community of Sulawesi swamp forests and that undiscovered taxa can be found in the pristine forest sites. Students and researchers from Tadulako University, IPB University and Indonesian Native Plant Foundation will collaborate on this project.