State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009NE178B
Title: Understanding Microbial Communities in Hyper Alkaline-Saline Sandhills Lakes as an Indicator of Global Warming
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: NE-003
Focus Categories: Surface Water, Hydrogeochemistry
Keywords: soda lakes, climate change, predictive models
Principal Investigator: Shaffer, Julie J; Plantz, Bradley A
Federal Funds: $ 20,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 25,999
Abstract: The Nebraska Sandhills consist of the largest vegetated desert in North America. This area has a wide range of shallow lakes that range from freshwater to hyper alkaline-saline. This area and these lakes in particular will be especially sensitive to global warming and changes in precipitation and being extreme environments have reduced species diversity, making it a good place to monitor changes. We propose to monitor the microbial populations by first identifying microbial community structure using DNA pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes from six hyper alkaline-saline lakes. Secondly, these lakes tend to be some of the most productive aquatic systems in the world, so we intend to profile the oxic microbial community using lignocellulosic enzyme assays to understand the flow of carbon through this system. Finally, trace metal availability is many times a limiting nutrient factor in these highly alkaline-saline lakes, so we propose to profile oxic and anoxic lake microbial communities for siderophores. These studies will help us to understand the movement of metals under these extreme conditions. With these techniques we will have preliminary data to help us to create models of the movement of carbon and iron through this system with the overall goal of understanding the function of these communities and how global warming is affecting them.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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