My name is Gaia Bigiotti and I am the youngest technologist at CREA-AA Florence for the Excalibur Project.
I got on board on February 2021; I am mostly involved in WP1, WP2, WP4, and WP5 providing technical support for all those soil analysis that are related to mesofauna and microorganisms (exactly, bugs and all those ugly tiny stuff that everyone hates… I have a Ph.D. in Entomology, that is why I love my little friends as much as my boyfriend! I just can’t get enough of them!).
Since the beginning of the project I travelled a lot for soil sampling all around Europe and I have learned to perform a lot of different analysis such as QBS-ar for microarthropods, pedological analysis for the evaluation of the soil texture and aggregates, as the wet/dry sieving and the sedigraph analysis, the study of soil porosity through thin soil sections observation, the study of the enzymatic activity through the fluorometric method, but also molecular analyses for NGS (DNA extraction, amplification, purification, libraries preparation…). In other words, sometimes I play with soil fauna, spying bugs at the stereomicroscope, sometimes I play with soil and I have dirty hands (I use the verb “to play” since this “mix” is a lot of fun!), sometimes I have gloves in the lab doing sterile and very accurate stuff… In Italy they would say: “you are like parsley, it goes everywhere”!
I still have much to learn, but the huge “biodiversity” of things in which I am involved, and the fact that I am surrounded by very talented and motivated people, increase my enthusiasm and my curiosity. I cannot wait to learn many other things thanks to the Excalibur project!
Here below a few “hands on” pics:
Soil sampling in the field.
Pedological analyses: dry and wet sieving to study soil texture, sedigraph for soil texture.
QBS-ar analysis: different microarthropods at the stereomicroscope retrieved in soil samples.
Analysis for the evaluation of soil enzimatic activity.
Processing soil sections (30 micron) to study soil porosity.
Molecular analyses: DNA extraxction from soil samples to evaluate the presence of microorganisms, libraries preparation.