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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

The Seasonal Occurrence of Pink Bacteria in Fox River Biofilms

Megan Scanlon

Senior, Microbiology


Biofilm bacterial communities in the Fox River are commonly inhabited by members of the bacterial genera Deinococcus and Hymenobacter. Previous work in the summer of 2013, led to the isolation of 14 Deinococcus and two Hymenobacter species from various habitats, (i.e. metal, wood, and concrete). All of these isolates were cultured during the summer (June to July). Not only could these unique bacterial genera be directly cultured, the molecular characterization of the bacterial community illustrate both are major members of the biofilm community. Our hypothesis was that these red/pink pigmented bacteria would be dominant members under the more harsh conditions in early spring with cold waters and increasing UV following ice melt. The objective was to characterize the relationship between water temperature and biofilm habitats to the occurrence of pink/red bacterial genera. Metal, wood and concrete were all sampled on the same days two weeks apart as the temperature of the water warmed in the spring of 2022 (3/31, 4/14, 4/48). Total culturable bacterial counts were determined for each site and open water sample. Then a subset of red/pink isolates were subcultured and purified (n=328). The identity of 52 isolates was characterized by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. This research is important for understanding the possible effects of climate change on biofilms in the Fox River as overall temperatures continue to rise in future years.

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