Port Everglades Inlet Microbiome Analysis Using High-Throughput DNA Sequencing

Grant Winners

  • Jose V. Lopez Ph.D. – Oceanographic Center
  • Jay Fleisher, Ph.D. – College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Song Gao, Ph.D. – Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lauren O'Connell, BS – Oceanographic Center

Deans

  • Richard E Dodge, PhD. – Oceanographic Center
  • Anthony Silvagni, DO, Pharm.D. – College of Osteopathic Medicine

Abstract

Award Winners

Marine microbes are the dominant organisms in the world's oceans. The development of high-throughput DNA sequencing (also commonly referred to as "Next Generation") techniques have allowed for a more complete characterization of marine microbes to be obtained. Port Everglades Inlet (PEI) is one of the most active cargo ports in the United States and is the main seaport in southern Florida for petroleum products. The port is subject to a high volume of boat traffic and other human influences, making it a possible point source of pollution to the surrounding coastal waters. This study aims to use high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and ion chromatography to determine: the compositions of the microbial communities ("microbiomes") present in the port and their changes over a year, understand how water chemistry changes may correlate with changes in the microbial composition, and determine which harmful human and marine pathogens are present in the port. The hypotheses being tested predict a) that the alpha diversity of microbial genera will be higher during Florida's wet season and that b) increases or decreases in nutrients, such as phosphorous and nitrogen, will correlate with compositional changes of the port microbiome. A third hypothesis being tested states that harmful human and marine pathogens will be present in low abundance, but will increase in the wet season. If this study is successful it will provide an extensive baseline and list of the microbial species present in Port Everglades Inlet, which has never before been determined. This is important because of the strong evidence implying that Florida's ports are major point sources of pollution to adjacent coral reefs and recreational beaches. It will also provide information pertinent to water quality tests by identifying potential pathogens present in the port that should be more routinely monitored during testing.