2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase
 

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

4-22-2022

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Leonora Bittleston

Abstract

Microbial communities are formed by groups of microorganisms, which impact the earth’s ecosystems. The way these organisms interact and function significantly affects how nutrients and energy move through our ecosystems. Discovering, analyzing, and defining the functions carried out by microbial communities can help reveal how ecosystems shift with changing conditions. However, it’s a challenge to analyze and track microbial community interactions or functions within large ecosystems. Focusing and analyzing the microbial communities in small ecosystems first, will help to study larger ecosystems. This study uses the small-scale ecosystem of the carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, to investigate microbial community functions in the plant’s digestive fluid. The microbial organisms found in the pitcher’s digestive fluid help with the decomposition of captured insect prey. This study worked on answering the question: how does prey type affect pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, microbial community function? Four different insect prey types and an inoculant of bacterial communities originally isolated from three wild pitchers were used to simulate a pitcher plant ecosystem in glass tubes. Analyses of enzymatic tests and substrate utilization revealed how different insect prey affect microbial community functioning. The results show a significant difference in the microbial community function for the different insect prey. Different insect prey affects the pitcher plant’s microbial community function in chitinase, protease, and substrate utilization across 31 distinct compounds. Future studies will expand on other areas of microbial community function that affect how insect prey is digested in pitcher plants.

Comments

Research mentors: Dr. Leonora Bittleston and Jessica Bernardin

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.