Presenters and attendants at the 2018 Poster Session

Interaction of Microplastics and Harmful Algal Blooms in Lakes

Project Title Interaction of Microplastics and Harmful Algal Blooms in Lakes
PI Name Erica Majumder

PI Affiliation Bacteriology
Project Description The increase in agricultural and urban runoff contributes to Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) formation in the Great Lakes and nearby water systems. Both forms of runoff contribute to HABs by providing nutrients and pollutants to stimulate growth of HAB causing species, which produce neurotoxins such as microcystins and threaten water supplies and recreational use of waterways. Microplastics (MPs) are being detected at increasing concentrations in the runoff, lakes, and surrounding watershed, however, the direct effect of MP contamination on HAB formation and toxin production is largely unknown. To investigate the impacts of MPs on the growth and toxin production of HAB causing species, we have designed experiments to elucidate microbe-plastic interactions both in the environment and within lab cultures. Environmental studies will involve field sampling using a novel filtration device designed to separate particulate matter as it passes through the REASON project sensors in the Moses Saunders Power Dam across the St. Lawrence River, while lab studies will utilize statistical Design on Experiments to identify key characteristics of MPs which influence growth and toxin production of cyanobacterial strains isolated from a HAB in Lake Erie. Results from these experiments will be used to identify key opportunists who are growing and transporting on MPs in the St. Lawrence River while simultaneously characterizing the properties of MPs which play a role in HAB formation and intensity.
Qualifications Required Coursework in (environmental) chemistry, microbiology and biochemistry is helpful but not formally required.
In-Person Tasks Maintain and deploy our passive sampler for collecting particulate matter from lakes. Extract microbial biofilm and adhered small molecules from surface of plastics. Submit microbial DNA for community sequencing. Assist in chemical identification of plastics and attached small molecules.
Virtual / Remote Tasks Some data analysis can be done remotely/virtual
Approx. Work Hours / Week 20-40
Keywords microplastics, harmful algal blooms, toxins