NSF Graduate Fellow
Effect of Temperature Reduction on Recovery of Microbial Populations in a Trichloroethene Polluted Environment
Drs. Scalarone and Winston
Masters of Science in Microbiology
University Department and/or Lab:
Description of Research:
Several sites of groundwater are contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE), a suspected carcinogen and known toxin. Several strategies have been attempted to reduce TCE concentrations to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) threshold for consumable water. One method is to heat the groundwater to approximately 100° C to drive off the TCE and allow the water to cool to ambient temperature, and bioaugment the groundwater as it cools with specific microbes that are capable of metabolizing TCE into harmless ethane.
This experiment is geared towards identifying the local microbial populations as the groundwater cools back down to the ambient temperature and determining how the populations change over time as the temperature cools. The experiment will also quantify certain bacteria that are known to reduce TCE (Dehalococcoides spp.) into ethene and monitor Dehalococcoides spp. robustness and ability to survive as the environmental factors change.
One example of how you integrate your research into your GK-12 experience:
I plan on using the MOTR (molecules on the road) lab for the biology students. Briefly, it entails the students extracting their own DNA from a cheek swab, running a PCR on the DNA, and digesting the amplicon DNA. If the student carries a specific gene for taste detection (TASR217) then the agarose electrophoretic gel that will be run will have two distinct bands. Non-carriers (and therefore non-tasters) will have only one band of genomic DNA. This type of DNA extraction/DNA analysis mirrors my research quite closely.