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I'm going extremophile hunting! We're doing a trek by boat between some islands with semi-active volcanic terrain to try to document some interesting species, and running into a problem I've never tackled before.

Usually I'd send samples into a lab for genetic analysis, and then go from there, but in this case we won't be able to get samples to and from the lab until the end of the trip. At that point we won't be able to go back and follow the most interesting organisms without a second trip.

The temptation is to bring along whatever equipment we need for our mobile lab and do the genetic analysis on-site. Space and budget are at a bit of a premium, so I thought I'd ask the community if anyone has any good ideas for microbe identification on the go. We'll have power and refrigeration and even a small amount of freezer space, though no -80C freezer. We're most interested in extremophilic fungi, though I'm sure we'll find other interesting things along the way.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you have some money: portable -80. Approx $8K. I've heard good things, but never used one. We'd need a bit more info - just trying to ID (sequence?)? Want to culture? $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    Jan 31 at 22:28

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If "identification" is your goal, I would suggest a MinION sequencer and associated equipment for library preparation. These are capable of generating large informative reads for e.g. metagenomics/isolate sequencing and are extremely portable. They have field sequencing kits, and there have been papers evaluating use in the field (see also here).

If your goal is "bring them back", then bob1's comment about a portable -80º is probably the more pertinent piece of equipment.

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