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Toxic Cyanobacteria Identification

Natalie Kirkbride, Sarah Jansen, Vinny Sanchez, Lizette Zavala, and Dr. Lucia Vazquez, Department of Biology, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, Springfield IL 62703

Cyanobacteria played an important role in oxygenating Earth 1,600 million years ago. Though an important part of Earth’s evolution, cyanobacterial presence within algal blooms is concerning in recreational and drinking water sources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is no current regulation for management practices of cyanobacteria algal blooms. This poses a public health concern as some cyanobacteria are toxic to humans, livestock, and other wildlife. Currently, it is difficult to treat polluted water bodies as identification for cyanobacterial species is expensive, unreliable, and time consuming; this is because identification involves microscopy and hiring experts familiar with their morphology. As a result, a new identification method that is easy, fast, and affordable would help make the regulation of polluted water more plausible. One possible solution would be using DNA barcoding-- a practice that utilizes short DNA sequences unique to each species for identification. Accordingly, this research aims to develop barcodes for the following algal bloom causing genera: Microcystis, Cylindrospermum, Planktothrix, and Doligospermum. We selected the 16S-23S rRNA Internal Transcribed Spacer as a potential barcode based on preliminary DNA sequences. ITS sequences downloaded from GenBank were aligned with the program MUSCLE; PCR primers were designed using GenBank and synthesized by Integrated DNA Technologies. We hypothesize that if the ITS regions show higher interspecific than intraspecific variation and the DNA sequences are distinctive for each species, then the barcode development would be concluded as successful. The implementation of cyanobacteria DNA barcodes could make cyanobacteria management practices more practical, efficient, and reliable than current methods. ​




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Natalie Kirkbride, Sarah Jansen, Vinny Sanchez, Lizette Zavala

Institution: University of Illinois at Springfield

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2619