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Bacterial population structure of a gasification cooling tower.


This experiment was conducted so the Dakota Gasification Company can determine the composition of aqueous bacterial population in their cooling towers in Beulah, North Dakota. The Dakota Gasification Company relies on the bacterial populations living within these cooling towers to break down the hydrocarbons that are produced as waste product of converting gasified coal to natural gas. Occasionally and without warning these bacterial populations dwindle or crash, the Dakota Gasification Company hopes that by taking a survey of the bacterial community of the bacterial within the cooling towers, future crashes can be prevented if the species of the bacterial population within the towers is known and can be effectively maintained to prevent the build up of hydrocarbons.

Materials and Methods

Nucleic acids were collected from the aqueous bacterial population within the cooling towers in August 2010. With primers 8F and 1391R which are relevant to bacterial species, the PCR of 16S rDNA was amplified using cloning vectors specifically that of PCR4.0, the species were then imported into a database and aligned against E. coli. The sequences were then prepared to known sequences stored on a public database. The species were then compared to species within the cooling towers bacterial community. A phylogenetic tree was constructed with jukes-cantor methods and neighbor-joining algorithms to show the relationship between the species surveyed and known species.

Results and Discussion

Analysis of the phylogenetic tree showed that out of the 27 relevant species in the aqueous bacterial population of the cooling tower 7.4% were most closely associated with the genus Methanimicrococcus. Methanomicrococcus blatticola specifically was known to reduce methanol and methylamine in the cockroach species Periplaneta Americana. (1) Comamonas was present in 77.8% and Pseudomonas was present in approximately 11.1%. Pusillimonas was also present in 3.7%. Compared with the last populations surveyed December 2006 when 28 species were randomly sampled, the percentage of Comamonas increased by nearly 10%. Comamonas is a nitrogen-fixing beta-proteobacteria. The percentage of Pusillimonas was almost decreased by half, from about 7 to about 4% currently. Similarly, the currently sample shows a decrease in Pseudomonas, a gamma-proteobacteria, decreases from approximately 25% to roughly 11%. Methanomicrococcus blatticola was found to be present but wasn't previously and in turn the genus Oligella wasn't found but had been previously observed.

(1) Sprenger, W., van Belzen, M., Rosenberg, J., Hackstein, J., & Keltjens, J. (2000). Methanomicrococcus blatticola gen. nov., sp. nov., a methanol- and methylamine-reducing methanogen from the hindgut of the cockroach periplaneta americana. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 50 (Pt 6; 1989-99)

Kelli Sem [1] *, Brian Striefel [2], Paul W.Lepp [1]

[1] Department of Biology, Minot State University, Minot, ND 58707

[2] Dakota Gasification Company, Beulah, ND 58523-9400 USA

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Article Details
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Author:Sem, Kelli; Striefel, Brian; W.Lepp, Paul
Publication:Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science
Geographic Code:1U4ND
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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