Comparing Microbial Diversity of Mining-Impacted Versus Nutrient-Stable Environments In the Greater Helena Area

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Chapman, Marrin
Franz, Madelyn
Gale, Josie
Kirby, Elizabeth
Mazkour, Elissa
Beck, Ashley
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Comparing Microbial Diversity of Mining-Impacted Versus Nutrient-Stable Environments In the Greater Helena Area
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The purpose of this experiment was to identify differences in the diversity of algal communities found in environments that have not been exposed to mining pollutants versus those environments that have been exposed to pollutants. Little research has been conducted to determine the impacts of mining on algal diversity. By examining and comparing two different water sources, we are able to elucidate the effect of toxic environments on algal growth and diversity. The main focus of this experiment is to compare the diversity of the 16s gene between a toxic environment, which has been more closely impacted by mining activity, and a more healthy environment which has not been impacted as severely by local mining. From Lake Helena and Prickly Pear Creek, three samples were collected from the respective water surfaces, deep water, and soil (five meters from the water) at each location. The samples collected were amplified via PCR and made identifiable via genomic barcodes. Any contaminants were then removed from the amplified samples. Then samples were added to a sequencing library and input into the MinION for sequencing. The completed sequences were subsequently analyzed through both Epi2me and MicrobiomeAnalyst to quantify the diversity within each sample and identify the primary genera and phyla present in the respective samples. Due to a lack of read counts corresponding to water samples, we excluded this information and focused analysis on soil samples. Our research revealed a greater phyla diversity as well as greater genera diversity present in Prickly Pear Creek soil samples as compared to Lake Helena samples. Though these findings were not statistically significant, Prickly Pear Creek appears to have a more diverse algal community than Lake Helena. In future studies, statistically significant results could be obtained by increasing the amount of samples collected as well as increasing the locations of sample collection.
Degree Awarded
Life and Environmental Science