I need to collected soil sample from agricultural area far away from my lab. It would required about a week for the sample to arrive to lab. I need the soil sample for genomic DNA isolation (metagenomics) as well for isolation of certain species and culture them.

Therefore, the cells in the soil sample needs to be viable. What are the possible ways to long distance transportation of soils sample with intact viable cells?

  • $\begingroup$ I would say it depends on the cells you are looking for. Are you the first one in your lab doing this stuff or are there protocols available? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 16, 2015 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, i am the first doing in my lab. I am targeting ammonia oxidizing bacteria and archaea. $\endgroup$
    – Nok Imchen
    Jul 16, 2015 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ Do what you have to do (extraction, culturing) on site? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jul 16, 2015 at 12:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm no expert, but it would seem to me that as long as the soil's approximate humidity level and temperature are maintained, you should be able to transport it for a week just fine. Think about it - the organisms in the soil are adapted to outdoor life, which (depending on their native climate) probably means varying amounts of water in the soil from time to time, and most likely temperature variations as well. It's not like you're trying to transport a viable human organ or something... $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Jul 16, 2015 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


We did a soil sampling expedition around farms in the UK a few years ago. We took with us some insulated plastic picnic drinks cool boxes, and a lot of pre-frozen camping freezer blocks. We bagged up the soil samples, and put the bags in the drinks coolers with the frozen blocks. This worked fine for our 48 hour trips. If you were going for longer, you could try to arrange access to a rotation of frozen freezer blocks, or buy bags of supermarket ice along the way to top up the drinks coolers. The idea for us was not to freeze the samples, but just to keep them cold enough that the organismal diversity was not changed too much during the transportation.


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