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Becky Gast and colleagues setting up sample cores on beach at Duck, N.C.

Of Sand and Microbes

WHOI microbial ecologist Rebecca Gast checks the distances between sample sites on the beach at Duck, N.C., as research associate Levi Gorrell places a coring tube and physical oceanographer Britt Raubenheimer (red jacket) talks with MIT/WHOI Joint Program student Elizabeth Halliday and engineer Bill Boyd from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The researchers took samples of sand to find out whether it harbored DNA from bacteria and whether wind and waves that moved the sand also moved the DNA. The presence of fecal bacteria in water is a common cause of beach closures, and investigators are now studying how physical processes at the beach may affect the distribution of bacteria. (Photo by Steve Elgar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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