2010 Annual Science Report
Arizona State University Reporting | SEP 2009 – AUG 2010
Stoichiometry of Life, Task 2b: Field Studies - Cuatro Cienegas
Cuatro Cienegas is a unique biological preserve in which there is striking microbial diversity, potentially related to extreme scarcity of phosphorus. We aim to understand this relationship via field sampling of biological and chemical characteristics and a series of enclosure and whole-pond fertilization experiments.
Molecular genetics of Cuatro Ciénegas
Using the oncoid microbialite samples from the 2009 sampling trip to Cuatro Ciénegas, we are optimizing extraction methods of DNA and RNA from biogenic carbonate microbial communities. We have successfully extracted DNA from these samples and plan to characterize the microbial communities using T-RFLP analysis. An undergraduate student, Eric Hughes, has been working on extracting DNA from microbialites to retrieve genes encoding sulfano-lipid biosynthesis enzymes. In preparation for the 2011 mesocosm experiments, we sampled the water and sediment of the Churince System for pre-manipulation biological analysis. We also are using these samples to test preservation methods for FISH (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization) analysis.
Calcification and nutrient cycling in Río Mezquites
In continuation of the 2009 environmental sampling, we collected water samples for major and minor elemental analysis. Graduate Student Jessica Corman also began a project to determine the role of metazoans on oncoid stromatolite growth. She collected nutrient excreta from snails caught randomly that were grazing on stromatolites. Corman is also developing a mesocosm and artificial Río Mezquites media to grow oncoids in vitro.
All samples have been transported to Arizona State University and are undergoing analysis.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:James Elser
PROJECT MEMBERS:German Bonilla
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 5.1
Environment-dependent, molecular evolution in microorganisms
Co-evolution of microbial communities
Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments
Effects of environmental changes on microbial ecosystems
Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth