Presentation Title

Minerals and Microbes: Exploring the Relationship Between Microbial Communities and Speleothem Samples Collected from Helmcken Falls Cave, Clearwater, BC

Presenter Information

Lyndsey Ulrich

Location

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

Start Date

18-3-2016 12:00 PM

End Date

18-3-2016 6:00 PM

Abstract

A procedure using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with mineral detection was developed to determine the mineral content in a speleothem sample, collected from Helmcken Falls caves in British Columbia, Canada. Speleothems are naturally occurring mineral deposit structures found in caves across the world. These deposits can be composed of a variety of minerals, but most research indicates the primary composite to be calcium carbonate. The goal of this research was to better understand microbe-mineral interactions in cave habitats. We wanted to determine whether the bacteria use the minerals provided by the deposits to produce their crystals, or whether they form crystals through production of minerals themselves. Popcorn samples were collected and the bacteria were plated for isolation onto Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate as well as a Nutrient Agar media and then incubated in aerobic and anaerobic conditions at 18°C as well as 28°C for 2 weeks. Using a dissecting microscope, the colonies were analyzed to observe if any crystal structures were apparent. If a crystal structure was identified, further analysis was then conducted using the SEM. The SEM allowed for mineral analysis on the crystal as well as high magnification and resolution imaging. Conclusions drawn from this experiment will help to further the understanding of cave bacteria and their role in the cave formation and degradation which may lead to better cave conservation.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Naowarat Cheeptham

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Mar 18th, 12:00 PM Mar 18th, 6:00 PM

Minerals and Microbes: Exploring the Relationship Between Microbial Communities and Speleothem Samples Collected from Helmcken Falls Cave, Clearwater, BC

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

A procedure using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with mineral detection was developed to determine the mineral content in a speleothem sample, collected from Helmcken Falls caves in British Columbia, Canada. Speleothems are naturally occurring mineral deposit structures found in caves across the world. These deposits can be composed of a variety of minerals, but most research indicates the primary composite to be calcium carbonate. The goal of this research was to better understand microbe-mineral interactions in cave habitats. We wanted to determine whether the bacteria use the minerals provided by the deposits to produce their crystals, or whether they form crystals through production of minerals themselves. Popcorn samples were collected and the bacteria were plated for isolation onto Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate as well as a Nutrient Agar media and then incubated in aerobic and anaerobic conditions at 18°C as well as 28°C for 2 weeks. Using a dissecting microscope, the colonies were analyzed to observe if any crystal structures were apparent. If a crystal structure was identified, further analysis was then conducted using the SEM. The SEM allowed for mineral analysis on the crystal as well as high magnification and resolution imaging. Conclusions drawn from this experiment will help to further the understanding of cave bacteria and their role in the cave formation and degradation which may lead to better cave conservation.