SAMPLING PROTOCOL

GLOBAL SOIL KIT – WITH PRESERVATION BUFFER

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USING THE KIT

KIT CONTENTS

1x pair of nitrile gloves

1 x corer with plunger

1 x barcoded sample pot

1 x 50 mL tube of “RNA preservation buffer”

1 x disinfectant wipe

1 x specimen safety bag

YOU WILL NEED

  • Smartphone/GPS device

  • Permanent marker

  • Rubber mallet

  • Trowel (optional)

PRE-SAMPLING

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN SAMPLING SOILS:

A composite sample consisting of multiple subsample cores is recommended to obtain better representation of the soil community. To ensure the correct ratio of buffer to soil, do not fill the sample pot more than halfway with soil.

Use a new kit for each new sample. This kit is designed to take one composite sample consisting of multiple subsample cores.

Avoid contamination issues by not sampling directly underfoot; DNA from your footwear may transfer from previously visited areas. Gloves should be changed between each composite sample/kit. If a mallet or any other reusable tools are used, they should be decontaminated with the provided disinfectant wipe between each composite sample.

Use corer with caution in gravelly or rocky soils. Corers will break with hard contact on stones or rocks. In these conditions, it is best to push the core in slowly; gentle taps with the mallet to drive the corer into the soils will allow you to feel hard obstructions. Alternatively, a metal corer may be a better option if such conditions are widespread across your site.

Corer may not achieve suction in waterlogged or dry, coarse soil. If soil core won’t come up with the corer, push the core to the desired depth then carefully lever the corer and its core out of the ground with a trowel.

Use of chemicals. The provided preservation buffer is non-hazardous and has no special storage or shipping requirements. Gloves should be worn when handling the disinfectant wipe and the preservation buffer. If buffer is splashed on skin or in eyes then the affected area should be rinsed with water. See provided Safety Data Sheet for further details.

PROTOCOL

1. Define your intended sampling area and mark out if necessary.

2. Using a permanent marker, label the sample pot with your unique sample ID.

3. Put on provided gloves to minimise cross contamination and introducing your own DNA into the sample. Use the provided disinfectant wipe to wipe down mallet or trowel if used.

4. Remove the syringe corer from the bag.

5. Remove debris or litter from the surface where you intend to collect the core. This can be done with a gloved hand. If there is vegetation growing at the surface, gently push aside to minimise the amount captured by the corer.

6. Remove the plunger from the syringe and push the core tube into the soil while twisting until the core is pushed in up to the 10 mL mark. It is recommended to use a rubber mallet to gently tap the corer into the ground to minimise pressure on your hand. If the corer will not push in all the way, remove and clear the corer then try again in a different spot nearby. If soils are too hard and dry for coring, you can use a trowel to break up the soil first. If soil core won’t come up with the corer, push the core to the desired depth then carefully lever the corer and its core out of the ground with a trowel.

7. Insert the plunger into the core to provide suction then pull the core out of the ground.

8. Position the syringe over your labelled sample pot and push the plunger all the way down to expel the entire core into the pot. Replace the lid of the pot between subsamples to prevent contamination of the sample.

9. Repeat steps 5-8 at different locations within the sample area, using the same syringe corer, until you have collected a total of four subsample cores.

10. When all the subsamples have been collected in the sample pot, pour all of the preservation buffer into the sample pot. Firmly secure the lid on the sample pot and shake to mix the cores and preservation buffer together.

11. If using the Nature Metrics sampling app to record sample information in the field, scan the barcode on the sample pot to fill in the information for that sample. If you are not using the app, be sure to make notes of sample name, coordinates, and other relevant details while in the field. Prior to sample return you will also need to complete the sample manifest, provided via email, with all of your sample information. A copy of the completed sample manifest should be printed and included with the samples, as well as being emailed to: lab@naturemetrics.co.uk. Please make sure that the unique sample IDs entered into the app and sample manifest exactly match what you have written on the sample pot.

12. Prior to shipping, samples should be kept in the dark to prevent exposure to sunlight. Samples can be stored at room temperature, however, if they will be stored for more than two weeks prior to shipping, or if the ambient temperature is higher than 22 °C, it is recommended that they be stored in a freezer (cold chain transport to NatureMetrics is not necessary).

13. It is important that these samples are packed and shipped in accordance with our Global Soils Packing and Transport Instructions to ensure clearance through UK customs. Each sample pot will need to be sealed within a safety specimen bag prior to shipping. Further instructions on how to use these bags are contained in that document and a demonstration video is available here.

Disclaimer: Safe sample collection is the responsibility of the Client. NatureMetrics accepts no liability associated with the use of the kits and sample collection. The Client is solely responsible for the quality of the samples and the representativeness of the samples received by NatureMetrics. The information contained within the Final Report provided by NatureMetrics to the Client is not intended to be advisory, it is informational. Interpretation and decisions are the sole responsibility of the Client. NatureMetrics does not accept any liability whatsoever for any reliance placed on any information contained within, or any use that may be made of, the Final Report by the Client. Please read the full limitation of liability statement in the Terms and Conditions.

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