Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012HI368B

Molecular, Fluorometric and Confocal Microscopy Analysis of Microbial Community Composition and Structure

Institute: Hawaii
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $13,991 Total Non-Federal Funds: $28,150

Principal Investigators: Celia Smith, David Spafford

Abstract: While periodic assessment of the effect of the effluent from the Sand Island sewage outfall on the benthic invertebrate population has been performed (e.g. Bailey-Brock, Paavo,et al., 2002), there has not been an assessment of the possible shift in the marine microbial community structure. In the last published assessment of the microbial activity at the outfall (Novitsky and Karl 1985), the investigators concluded “Although the activity of the microbial populations does not seem to have been affected drastically by the input of sewage effluent, we have no indication of its effect on the microbial community structure. The fate of the large microbial community on the effluent itself is unknown.” This is a serious shortcoming, as a shift in the microbial community structure can be pathological and has serious ecological implications(Smith, 2007). Since 1985, methods have been developed to analyze the microbial community structure at the outfall and control sites (Webster and Negri, 2006). The relationships between marine microbes and human health will increasingly be important, as human populations rise and NSF has made Oceans and Human Health a priority. The objective of this proposal is to assess the microbial community by analyzing the biological films that result for colonization and settlement of water column microbes and propagules. We propose to use DNA analysis, pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry(PAM), and confocal microscopy to investigate whether the microbial community structure which forms in one month on vertically positioned glass slides at a eutrophic site is different from the microbial community at a control site. The present proposal will be carried out by two UH Manoa doctoral students, an undergraduate student as well as a Junior Researcher and PI.