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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program

Jeff Bowman - Oceanography & Biology

Following an army enlistment and two years at Bellevue Community College I transferred to the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. The School of Oceanography has a very strong tradition of involving undergraduates in research, and I soon found a position in the lab of Prof. Julian Sachs. In spring 2007 I had the opportunity to help plan and conduct an expedition to a region of Canada known to contain many hypersaline lakes and to the Great Salt Lake of Utah. During this expedition I became very interested in the density and diversity of microbial life present within these harsh environments. After our return I began planning a project to enumerate and isolate extreme halophiles from some of our samples in order to identify a potential salinity indicator in the form of a lipid biomarker.

Jeff Bowman photo
Sampling at the Great Salt Lake. The intense pink color of the water is caused by a bloom of the halotolerant phytoplankton Dunienella sp.

Mentor: Julian P. Sachs, Oceanography

Project Title: Enumeration and isolation of culturable halophiles from several hypersaline lakes and the development of a potential salinity indicator

Abstract: Halophiles recovered from hypersaline environments in western Canada and Utah’s Great Salt Lake provide an opportunity to advance our knowledge of how these organisms interact with their harsh environment. By treating these organisms to both aerobic and anaerobic, and light and dark conditions we can reduce competitive inhibition among culturable halophiles and enumerate the widest variety possible. Isolation of morphospecies cultured in this manner will enable us to determine the salt tolerances for individual species by inoculating pure colonies onto media of varying salinities. Analysis of lipid biomarkers produced by halophiles cultured at these varying salinities using gas chromatography mass spectrometry may reveal salinity indicators that can be applied to paleoclimate questions.