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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Characterizing Functional Diversity of Red-Pink Biofilm Bacteria from Fox River Substrates

Mariah Linse

Senior, Microbiology and Biomedical Sciences


Freshwater bacterial biofilm communities are under characterized, which leaves a gap in our understanding related to biogeochemical cycles. The Fox River is no exception; however, previous work has illustrated the dominance of red-pink pigmented bacteria in these freshwater biofilms. This work sought to explore functional diversity in a red-pink bacterial collection (n=39) collected from different substrates (i.e., wood, metal, and concrete) at three different timepoints during the spring warming (3/31/22, 4/14/22, and 4/28/22). These were assessed by growth conditions, production of extracellular enzymes, biochemical assays, and genetic variation. Culturing only the red-pink bacteria from the biofilms, we predicted this would narrow down our isolates to Deinococcus species. However, 16S rRNA sequencing revealed the presence of other red-pink bacterial genera corresponding to three different phyla and five genera. Differences among isolates were observed in growth rates, biofilm production, production of extracellular enzymes, and environmental preferences. These observations point to the phenotypic diversity of red-pink bacteria in freshwater biofilms in the Fox River. Our findings suggest that specifically Hymenobacter species dominate freshwater biofilms under colder conditions. Further work is needed to understand their ecological niche in these communities.

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