The study of organisms from extreme environments is an emerging field of research with applications to multiple scientific areas. One of these extreme environments is Great Salt Lake (GSL), whose microbiology has yet to be extensively studied. This dynamic and unique environment offers an excellent opportunity to increase understanding of hypersaline ecology. Cultivation of microorganisms remains an important part of ecology research, as it is essential for understanding microbial physiology. We report here the culturing and characterization of isolates from Rozel Point, located on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake. This site was chosen because of the presence of petroleum seeps at Rozel Point and the extreme salinity of the North Arm of GSL. We hypothesize that culturing at GSL will reveal a diverse prokaryotic population, with both commonly isolated and novel organisms. We would predict that prokaryotes at GSL will share many features in common with other hypersaline microbial communities, but that given the distinctive properties of the site, there will be unique characteristics as well. Samples were taken from Rozel Point and cultured using direct plating, enrichment cultures, and dilution cultures with a variety of minimal and complex halophilic media. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to examine abundance of cultured organisms in the environment. Culturing and characterization has revealed both isolates novel and previously uncultured, with many unique characteristics. FISH demonstrated that, unlike most environments, in GSL the dominant species are culturable. These results show the value of culturing in discovering new organisms and demonstrating diversity at the microbial level. Culturing of these organisms will allow for further research to be done on microbial processes that occur in this system and the unique properties of halophilic microbes.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Haws, Emily Sarah, "Ecology of Culturable Organisms at Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah" (2007). All Theses and Dissertations. 857.
halophile, Great Salt Lake, culturing, FISH