Honors College Thesis


Microbial Abundance and Community Analysis in Devil’s Hole, Harrington Sound, Bermuda Public Deposited

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  • Microbial activity within elevated CO2 and oxygen depleted environments changes with density driven stratification overturn in the seasonally anoxic region of Devil’s Hole, Bermuda. The temperature gradient developed during the summer months creates a natural laboratory to study bacterial and virus population density and microbial community dynamics in the anoxic layer during stratification and in response to naturally raised pCO2 levels. Chemical properties and microbial communities were measured and evaluated during stratification and after turnover. The study concludes that there are different bacterial communities present during pre and post turnover conditions, with two unknown bacterial populations accounting for a majority of bacterial diversity. Virus counts fluctuate with depth, while bacterial populations flourish near the sediment layer at the anoxic zone. Organic matter falling through the water column settles in the anoxic layer and sediment, creating a nutrient rich environment for bacteria to metabolize. These anaerobic and elevated pCO2 conditions give a glimpse into microorganism’s nutrient use and production under elevated pCO2 conditions which are similar or higher than future pCO2 levels projected according to Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Control.
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