Finally some results!

For my last blog post, I want to share a graph of the data I processed over the summer. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I have been taking water samples every month from three locations along the Crim Dell Creek and creating viral concentrates with them.

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Fun with Phage (and TEM)

This coming week I plan to use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to look for bacteria cells visibly infected by phage in biofilms I collect from the Crim Dell Stream on campus. This is exciting to me because I’ve always wanted to use the electron microscope and now I have a reason to!

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Comparing Viral Communities Using RAPD-PCR and Gel Electrophoresis

These past few weeks I have been working on using the viral concentrates I made for RAPD-PCR and gel electrophoresis. To make a viral concentrate, I filter off the bacteria and centrifuge the water samples at 38,000 rpm to force the viruses to the bottom of the centrifuge tubes. I then re-suspend the viruses in a much smaller volume. I have 27 viral concentrates to make gels for, plus the water samples I will continue to collect until October.

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Looking at Viruses and Bacteria in Water Column Samples

I am currently on my third week of research, and for the most part I have been processing nice months of water samples that I collected during the past school year. My project focuses on viral ecology in streams; specifically if viral community composition and abundance changes over time and space and how they infect bacterial biofilms on streambeds. Beginning in October of 2016, I have sampled the Crim Dell Stream on campus at three locations (named CDP, CDU, and CDL) every month. That has amounted to twenty-seven water column samples that I have spent the last two and a half weeks working with.

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Abstract: Viral Community Dynamics in Stream Bacterial Biofilms

Marine ecosystems have been a focal point for microbial ecology studies.  Over two decades of research in the global ocean has revealed important roles of viruses in marine ecosystems, from controlling host populations, to influencing how nutrients cycle within marine food webs, to influencing host evolution through gene transfer. In comparison, much less is known about the roles of viruses in freshwater systems. Streams are incredibly important to global ecology as a huge site of carbon cycling as well as a place where ecosystems are connected and integrated. And unlike the ocean, many freshwaters have complex connections with terrestrial watersheds, which can also influence virus dynamics in these systems.  Understanding the impacts of viruses in freshwater microbial communities is the next important challenge in this field of research.

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