Presentation Title

Biomineralization by Bacteria Isolated from the Popcorn Speleothem Sample of the Iron Curtain Cave in Chilliwack, BC, Canada

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Presenter Information

Lynnea CarrFollow

Abstract

The enzyme urease has been identified as a virulence factor in many bacteria due to its multiple roles in human disease pathogenesis. For example, urease has been observed to contribute to the precipitation of ions resulting in kidney stones. Urease catalyzes the conversion of urea into ammonia and bicarbonate. The bicarbonate ion produced is transferred to the surface of the bacterial cell, where it will then bind with calcium in the environment to form calcium carbonate. The bacteria are sites of nucleation on which calcium carbonate crystals can form. Bacteria that produce calcium carbonate using this reaction are currently being studied for their potential applications in biocement techniques. However, the role of this pathway in cave formations is not well understood yet.

The present study aims to investigate the bacterial community composition of a popcorn speleothem found within the Iron Curtain Cave in Chilliwack, BC using primarily culture-dependent techniques. Forty-four isolates of bacteria were isolated from the collected samples using NA, d10NA, and R2A media cultured at 8°C for 7-21 days. These isolates were then subcultured to obtain single colonies for the urease enzyme and nitrogen-reductase activity screening. The positive candidates were then grown on B4 medium at 8°C until calcium crystals were observed under a dissecting microscope. Information gathered will help researchers understand whether these bacteria can be induced to produce calcium carbonate crystals in a laboratory setting. Overall, the results may provide supporting evidence that the bacteria could have some degree of involvement in the formation of the cave speleothems.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Naowarat Cheeptham

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Biomineralization by Bacteria Isolated from the Popcorn Speleothem Sample of the Iron Curtain Cave in Chilliwack, BC, Canada

The enzyme urease has been identified as a virulence factor in many bacteria due to its multiple roles in human disease pathogenesis. For example, urease has been observed to contribute to the precipitation of ions resulting in kidney stones. Urease catalyzes the conversion of urea into ammonia and bicarbonate. The bicarbonate ion produced is transferred to the surface of the bacterial cell, where it will then bind with calcium in the environment to form calcium carbonate. The bacteria are sites of nucleation on which calcium carbonate crystals can form. Bacteria that produce calcium carbonate using this reaction are currently being studied for their potential applications in biocement techniques. However, the role of this pathway in cave formations is not well understood yet.

The present study aims to investigate the bacterial community composition of a popcorn speleothem found within the Iron Curtain Cave in Chilliwack, BC using primarily culture-dependent techniques. Forty-four isolates of bacteria were isolated from the collected samples using NA, d10NA, and R2A media cultured at 8°C for 7-21 days. These isolates were then subcultured to obtain single colonies for the urease enzyme and nitrogen-reductase activity screening. The positive candidates were then grown on B4 medium at 8°C until calcium crystals were observed under a dissecting microscope. Information gathered will help researchers understand whether these bacteria can be induced to produce calcium carbonate crystals in a laboratory setting. Overall, the results may provide supporting evidence that the bacteria could have some degree of involvement in the formation of the cave speleothems.