It was a sunny day in March 2017, when the dry season began on the mountain tops in the rupestrian grasslands (campos rupestres) in the Espinhaço Range, southeast of Brazil. We had been walking the whole day and carrying heavy samples of stones, soil, roots, plants and ten kilograms of ice! A long hike back to the car awaited us, and then we could finally rest. Across the unpeopled landscape covered by low vegetation, rocks, and isolated trees, tiny rolling, slippery stones challenged our progress. In our backpacks there were hammers and hoes, unconventional tools for a group of molecular geneticists. This scene would be repeated at least twice a year for two more years.
The motivation for this atypical situation was to understand one aspect of the campos rupestres that had never been explored before: its plant- and soil-associated microbiome.
Find out more in Nature Spring Blog in the Behind the Paper session: