Honors College Thesis

The effects of X-ray CT scanning on microbial communities in sediment cores

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  • Using X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning to characterize the physical characteristics of soil and sediment cores allows scientists to observe and analyze stratigraphy without destroying the integrity of different layers. Microbiologists often work with geologists to characterize the microbial communities in such cores; however, X-rays are known to be destructive to cells and this is not typically considered when cores are scanned. My objective was to determine whether X-ray CT scanning affects microbial community composition within the cores. Sediment cores were extracted from salt marshes in Netarts Bay, OR to examine CT scan effects on microbial communities in fine and coarse grain layers. We observed no apparent effect of X-ray CT scanning on microbial community composition in any of the sediment cores; however, other factors in the samples such as location in the marsh from which the samples were obtained and sediment type did have a marked effect on microbial community structure. Key Words: Sediment core, X-ray Computed Tomography, microbial community structure.
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