The non-profit Soil Health Institute announced funding Tuesday from Wells Fargo to identify microbial indicators of optimal carbon cycling and storage in soil.

The work will utilize metagenomic and carbon data collected as part of the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements. Metagenomics is the examination of genetic material outside of the environment. The group hopes to leverage genetic indicators to track multiple elements of soil health, according to a press release. Establishing genomic indicators of carbon cycling is the first step in the Institute’s goal of creating a suite of DNA based soil health indicators capable of describing a multitude of different soil functions.

“Increases in carbon storage following adoption of regenerative soil health systems can take years to distinguish,” said Institute soil microbiome scienetist Elizabeth Rieke. “Our goal is to develop microbial indicators that allow stakeholders to observe how management decisions impact their potential to transform and build soil organic carbon stocks.”