Water Samples

Adopting Molecular Techniques to Sample the Aquatic Environment

MSc Microbiology 

As aquatic environments cover 71% of the Earths Surface and microorganisms dominate the biosphere, it is imperative that we understand how these essential organisms differ in diversity and function in our aquatic environments. It is clear that the configuration of microbiota differs as a function of water class, notably due to salt and organic compound concentrations (Bahgat, 2011) present in the various aquatic systems. However, the extent of this diversity and their interactions with abiotic and biotic factors are key questions in order to understand microbial dynamics (Rastogi & Sani, 2011) in these systems. This is particularly due to the fact that many of these microorganisms act as key components in biogeochemical cycles (Briée et ak., 2007) thus their biodiversity is strongly affected by the rapid and accelerated changes in the global climate (Medlin & Tobe, 2011), a phenomenon of interest, which has been intensifying at an alarming rate over recent years.

By adopting suitable molecular techniques it has enabled the evaluation of aquatic communities through the assessment of species diversity as well as the identification of taxonomic groups located in the sample. One of the best approaches to identify microorganisms is through PCR based methods (Wood et al., 2013) as DNA/RNA obtained from the sample can be used as a template to identify microorganisms. Additionally, the ability of PCR to amplify 16s rRNA from environmental samples makes it a significantly valuable technique, as the genes are ubiquitous and universally conserved in all life forms. Furthermore, there are expanding databases for the comparison of 16S rRNA sequences (Rastogi & Sani, 2011).

Molecular techniques are an effective method to sample the heterogeneous environment and so were used to examine various freshwater and seawater samples in this investigation. The main aim was to identify different microorganisms in each environment to understand their interactions and why they might inhabit that area.