Request Soil Microbe Archival Samples

NEON Soil Microbes (Frozen): Available for Request

Soil microbial samples are collected from surface horizons (Organic and Mineral) to a depth of 30cm. Microbial samples are frozen after field collection and stored in a temporary archive in ultra-low freezers (-80°C). These samples are accompanied by various physical and chemical measurements that can be queried and downloaded on NEON Data Portal. This archive is considered a community resource; samples may be requested for scientific and educational purposes.  Presently, samples collected between 2013 and 2016 are available for request. To request samples, please carefully review the information on this page and then fill out and submit the form at the bottom.

Soil Microbe Summary Details




Storage Conditions

Volume/ Mass Stored

Site Type

Sampling Frequency per site

Locations Per Site

Soil Microbe Archive

Organic, Mineral

Field-frozen, minimal processing  

-80C, 50mL conical tubes or 2-oz whirlpaks

5-20 grams

Terrestrial sites

1-3 times per year

30 discrete locations per sampling event


Each soil microbial sample is carefully documented in the Soil Physical Properties (Physical Distributed) data product (NEON.DP1.10086) that includes:

  • Location, elevation and sampling date
  • Soil temperature, moisture, and pH
  • For a subset of samples, soil microbial biomass, biogeochemistry and nitrogen transformation rate measurements are available (see Related Data in the Data Products Catalog)
  • Microbial marker gene sequence data and qPCR data (see Related Data in the Data Products Catalog)

Please visit the NEON Data Portal to browse currently available soil data.

Soil Microbe Frozen Inventory

Use this Excel workbook to determine what samples you would like to request. This file contains the inventory of soil microbial samples collected as part of the NEON program between 2013 and 2016. To view the inventory, click on the tab, 'soilMicrobeFrozenInventory' in the workbook.


Permit Requirements

All requesters must have a Permit to Receive Soil (PPQ 525) from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), or from an equivalent international service. Find information about the permit at the APHIS website. The NEON soil permit prohibits NEON from sending soil to laboratories that do not have an active permit.

Considerations for Approval

In order to balance preservation and sample use, only one vial of soil will be distributed per sample per request. Please request only the minimum number of samples needed for your study. Any amount of material may be requested; however, the NEON project is more likely to approve requests for smaller quantities of soil per sample (e.g., <20 g per sample). Requests for larger quantities may be approved if justified and the aim of the study passes the merit review. Please do not request spare or extra soil material via this request process.

All requests undergo a review process to evaluate the scientific and quantity justifications by members of the NEON project science staff. The NEON project evaluates requests to ensure that

  1. A legitimate research project is the basis for the request;
  2. The use of NEON soil samples is important for achieving the study goals; and
  3. The number/quantity is justified. The NEON project also reviews whether a sample was previously used for the same purpose.

In the event that the request does not pass the merit review for the science justification or if a quantity cannot be agreed upon, a requester may have their request evaluated by an external panel. In order to comply with our soil permit, NEON requests permission in advance from USDA-APHIS to ship soil samples.

To complete this request form, you must include:

  1. Your full name and affiliation
  2. A copy of your USDA-APHIS permit to receive soil
  3. A brief project objective, description and justification for the use of NEON samples
  4. A list of each analysis you will perform, the quantity of soil required for each analysis and a justification for the quantity used in each analysis
  5. A detailed list of requested samples

Please allow two months for the processing of all requests. If you have any questions, please email the Soil Archive Team.

Shipping and Handling

There will be a S&H charge which may vary by sample and quantity.

Please upload a description and justification for your request for NEON samples that includes:

  1. A brief project objective, description and justification for the use of NEON samples
  2. A list of analyses you will perform
  3. A detailed list of requested samples
Accepted file types include .doc, .docx and .pdf. Maximum upload size is 2MB.

Citation and Data Agreement

By submitting a request, requestors agree to:

  1. Report all publications, presentations or other derived products resulting from the use of these soil samples to the NEON project at the contacts listed above;
  2. Acknowledge the NEON project as the provider of samples in any publication or presentation resulting from the request, regardless of authorship; and
  3. Submit any data resulting from the use of these samples to the NEON project within one year of receipt of the samples or other time period mutually agreed upon.
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