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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A sandwich-designed temperature-gradient incubator for studies of microbial temperature responses.

A temperature-gradient incubator (TGI) is described, which produces a thermal gradient over 34 aluminium modules (15x30x5 cm) intersected by 2-mm layers of partly insulating graphite foil (SigraFlex Universal). The new, sandwich-designed TGI has 30 rows of six replicate sample wells for incubation of 28-ml test tubes. An electric plate heats one end of the TGI, and the other end is cooled by thermoelectric Peltier elements in combination with a liquid cooling system. The TGI is equipped with 24 calibrated Pt-100 temperature sensors and insulated by polyurethane plates. A PC-operated SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) software (Genesis 4.20) is applied for temperature control using three advanced control loops. The precision of the TGI temperature measurements was better than +/-0.12 degrees C, and for a 0-40 degrees C gradient, the temperature at the six replicate sample wells varied less than +/-0.04 degrees C. Temperatures measured in incubated water samples closely matched the TGI temperatures, which showed a linear relationship to the sample row number. During operation for 8 days with a gradient of 0-40 degrees C, the temperature at the cold end was stable within +/-0.02 degrees C, while the temperatures at the middle and the warm end were stable within +/-0.08 degrees C (n=2370). Using the new TGI, it was shown that the fine-scale (1 degrees C) temperature dependence of S(o) oxidation rates in agricultural soil (0-29 degrees C) could be described by the Arrhenius relationship. The apparent activation energy (E(a)) for S(o) oxidation was 79 kJ mol(-1), which corresponded to a temperature coefficient (Q(10)) of 3. 1. These data demonstrated that oxidation of S(o) in soil is strongly temperature-dependent. In conclusion, the new TGI allowed a detailed study of microbial temperature responses as it produced a precise, stable, and certifiable temperature gradient by the new and combined use of sandwich-design, thermoelectric cooling, and advanced control loops. The sandwich-design alone reduced the disadvantageous thermal gradient over individual sample wells by 56%.[1]


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