Discipline: Ecology, Environmental & Earth Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Yungkul Kim - Bethune-Cookman University
Co-Author(s): Raphael D. Isokpehi, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Florida; Ashish Pathak, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida; Charles Jagoe, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida; Ashvini Chauhan, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida.
Oysters and their associated microbiomes provide significant environmental benefits, including removal of nitrogen, a major cause of coastal and estuarine eutrophication. However, the presence, abundance, metabolic activity and ecological significance of microbial endosymbionts within oysters, especially in warm temperate and tropical waters, remain poorly understood. Much of the oyster microbiome consists of taxonomically unresolved and potentially novel microorganisms. Filling this knowledge gap is critical because oyster aquaculture and restoration of oyster reefs is greatly expanding in the Gulf of Mexico and south Atlantic coasts. Thus, we are investigating the microbiomes of wild and cultured oysters grown under different nutrient, temperature and salinity regimes. In addition to the microbiome community composition and potential identification of novel microbes, we are focusing on microbes associated with biogeochemical cycling, particularly denitrification. One major hypothesis is that oyster microbiomes provide a significant ecosystem service of nitrogen removal in estuarine systems. Several emergent ‘omics’ techniques are being deployed by a team of ecologists, microbiologists, bioinformaticians and biogeochemists from two Florida Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University), thus supporting the development and expansion of research capacity at these institutions. The project also includes a significant education component, including funding for students and a postdoctoral fellow. Better understanding of the structure and function of oyster microbiomes will advance knowledge of estuarine ecology and may provide improved strategies for managing coastal water quality. Dissemination to the public include news releases and news articles (https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20190816/bethune-cookman-famu-to-study-oysters-ability-to-clean-water).
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Awards 1901377 and 1901371 from the National Science Foundation HBCU Excellence in Research (HBCU-EiR) and Integrative Ecological Physiology Programs.
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,
NSF Affiliation: HBCU-UP