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Environmental Investigation of the Macatawa Watershed

Project Full Title:

Microbial, Environmental and Chemical Analyses of the Macatawa Watershed

Project Mentor(s):

Best,Aaron; DeJongh,Matthew; Krueger,Brent; Pikaart,Michael

Project Mentor(s) EMail:;;;

Project Start Date:


Project End Date:


Project Description:

This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, and computer science. The Macatawa Watershed is burdened by high levels of sediment, nutrient and bacterial contaminants. Local community projects to remediate the watershed are underway. In this study, we have a unique opportunity to understand the impacts of remediation efforts, linking physical, chemical and biological information to inform future decisions. Further, we have the opportunity to perform a deep examination of Escherichia isolates derived from this watershed. The sources of Escherichia in a watershed can be many, including point sources associated with sewage treatment, livestock farming, and wild animals and fowl; and non-point sources through sediment runoff from urban and agricultural environments. This study will address a knowledge gap in one of the best studied groups of organisms by examining genome sequences of Escherichia isolates from a watershed environment coupled to a detailed surveys of microbial communities through next generation sequencing to track the composition and changes in microbial populations that occur in the watershed. Students will be involved in a variety of research activities, including field sampling of the watershed, microbiological and chemical analysis of water samples, sequencing bacterial isolates and communities, and analysis of sequencing data in context with physical and chemical data. In particular, students will explore the suite of antimicrobial resistance mechanisms associated with natural populations of E. coli found in the watershed.

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