Mo Title: North Inlet Microbial Observatory (NIMO)

Location: Saltmarsh Estuary, near Georgetown, SC

Created by George Rice, Montana State University


The diazotrophic (nitrogen fixing) Bacteria are extraordinarily diverse and apart from a few select groups are very poorly characterized. Diazotrophs associated with the roots of non-crop plant species are particularly understudied. The North Inlet Microbial Observatory (NIMO) focuses on diazotrophs in a salt marsh ecosystem. This system is characterized by strong zonation patterns of a very limited number of plant species growing along distinct environmental gradients. It also harbors a great diversity of plant root-associated diazotrophs, many of which appear to be novel taxa. The zonation patterns and biota of salt marshes provide a unique opportunity to explore the diversity and distribution patterns of this key bacterial group, and to evaluate the underlying environmental parameters that control diversity, and distributions of the active diazotrophs.

Project Goals:

  1. Develop an extensive culture collection of salt marsh diazotrophs from the North Inlet study site.
  2. Determine relevant phylogenetic affiliations and characteristics of diazotrophs that will help lead to formal descriptions of new taxa.
  3. Ascertain which diazotrophs actively fix nitrogen in association with salt marsh plants.
  4. Determine numerical representations of diazotrophs that are active in the plant community.
  5. Examine micro-scale distributions of diazotrophs on and in the plant roots.
  6. Investigate macro-scale distributions of the diazotrophs across environmental gradients by relating their occurrence to host plant distributions in the marsh.

Principal Investigators:

Image of Rick Lovell- Principal Investigator
Charles R. Lovell, Professor of Biological Sciences, 803-777-7036, Lovell's Research
Image of co-PI Madilyn Fletcher
Madilyn Fletcher, Director of the Baruch Institute, Professor of Marine and Biological Sciences, (803)777-5288,, Fletcher's Research

Copyright on all images and material by Charles R. Lovell 2005.

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