Melissa Llardo, 2011, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer I was helping to continue the reef sediment microbiology research of Eric Gaidos at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. We collected samples of reef sediment at the Kaneohe bay on the Island of Oahu.  From these samples we were able to extract solutions containing microbial cell populations that we then ran through filters.  Using a process called FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) we were able to label specific microbes on filter sections with specific RNA probes and measure the number of each subset (for example Nitrosomonadales) compared to the relative number of cells on the filter.  Certain subsets participate in the nitrogen cycles in different ways, and we hoped to gather information about the nitrogen cycle in this particular bay based on how many cells of each population we observed. The results were inconclusive with a high margin of error, mostly due to the FISH process.