CAA: Rhizosphere Influence on Hydrocarbon Metabolizing Microorganisms

Grant Details


Gregory M. Colores Proposal #0542309 Rhizosphere influence on hydrocarbon metabolizing microorganisms The goal of this Career Advancement Award is to use cultivation and non-cultivation based methods to characterize the microbial populations associated with plant rhizospheres in hydrocarbon-impacted soils. A series of plots have been established in polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) impacted soils that have been planted with species native to Michigan. Preliminary results with these plots indicate that individual plant species have different effects on the extent of hydrocarbon removal. In this research project, experiments will be conducted to evaluate the different influences that unique plant species have on the microbial communities inhabiting the rhizospheres. This will be performed by analyzing soil samples collected from different plots at various time intervals. Microbial communities will be characterized by 1) sequencing a gene that will enable the identification of microorganisms present (16S rRNA genes) 2) sequencing genes involved in PAH-degradation (PAH dioxygenases), and 3) comparing carbon utilization profiles of rhizosphere samples. It is anticipated that these experiments will reveal microbiological factors that enable some plants to accelerate the removal of PAHs from contaminated soils, whereas others hinder their removal. The broader impacts include developing an ecological framework for understanding how an applied technology like phytoremediation can be optimized. Some aspects of this project will also be integrated into a semester long cooperative laboratory experience for a microbial ecology and plant physiology class taught during the same semester. Further, this support will be used to increase research opportunities for underrepresented populations through local outreach and through additional, formal NSF channels (e.g. REU and RET supplements).

Effective start/end date03/1/0608/31/09


  • National Science Foundation: $174,769.00


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