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OLI Grant: Anthropogenic impacts on cyanobacterial diversity and secondary metabolite biosynthesis

Grant Funded: 2004

Cyanobacteria are globally ubiquitous phototrophic bacteria that have recently been recognized as potent producers of secondary metabolites (toxins, antibiotics, etc). Our recent laboratory work suggests that cyanobacteria that grow in association with other organisms or attached to surfaces have greater propensity for secondary metabolite synthesis. The ecological cues that lead to the enrichment of natural product producing cyanobacteria in the environment are not understood. To begin to understand this phenomenon, we propose to examine how anthropogenic inputs into aquatic systems affect cyanobacterial diversity and how this translates into the enrichment for strains that express of either environmentally deleterious or beneficial products. Our study site is the Bahia Honda International Station for Tropical Research and Oceanography (BISTRO) in Panama (also referred to as the “Liquid Jungle Lab”). This station is an ideal locale for this research since both pristine and agriculturally impacted sites are available and easily accessible. We believe that this project is ideal for the OLI, since we will be addressing questions related to both ocean health and biodiversity. Additionally, if funded, this project will lay the essential groundwork for a N.I.H. proposal focused on secondary metabolites and future microbial ecological studies at BISTRO.

Originally published: February 1, 2004