Chemistry 2011.org
Chemistry2011.org
All About Chemistry... 2011 and beyond
Ecology, Ecosystems

Related Stories

Measuring microbes makes wetland health monitoring more affordable, says researcher

Apr. 9, 2013 — Wetlands serve as Earth's kidneys. They filter and clean people's water supplies while serving as important habitat for many species, including iconic species like cattails, cranes and alligators. Conventional ecosystem health assessments have focused on populations of these larger species. However, the tiny, unseen creatures in the wetlands provided crucial indicators of the ecosystems' health in a study by University of Missouri Associate Professor of Engineering Zhiqiang Hu and his team.

Using analysis of the microbiological health of wetlands is cheaper and faster than traditional assessments, and could lead to improvements in harnessing natural processes to filter humans' wastewater.

"During road and building construction, engineers must sacrifice wetlands to development, but laws dictate that these lost wetlands be compensated for by establishing a wetland somewhere else," said Hu. "Our research could be applied to both monitor the success of these compensation wetlands and guide conservationists in inoculating new engineered ecosystems with the correct types of microorganisms."

Understanding the microbial biodiversity of a healthy wetland also informs engineers' decisions when building constructed wetlands or wastewater treatment ponds, according to Hu. These systems can help clean water flowing from sewer lines and reduce the need for expensive treatment plants.

"Microbes form the base of the wetland food chain and nutrient cycle, so the health of their populations reverberates through the ecosystem," said Hu. "However, analyzing their populations was once too difficult. Now, advances in microbial analysis allow us to more easily and accurately identify the species present in soil or water samples. This could become a vital tool to complement other forms of wetland health evaluation."

Hu's team, led by former MU doctoral student Atreyee Sims, found that a higher ratio of certain microbes, known as archaea, to bacteria was a good sign of a healthy ecosystem. When a few species of bacteria dominated the samples, the wetland was probably contaminated and unhealthy from the ground up, Sims concluded.

The study "Toward development of microbial indicators for wetland assessment" was published in the journal Water Research.


Journal Reference:

  1. Atreyee Sims, Yanyan Zhang, Shashikanth Gajaraj, Pamela B. Brown, Zhiqiang Hu. Toward the development of microbial indicators for wetland assessment. Water Research, 2013; 47 (5): 1711 DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.01.023

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

The source of this article can be found at: http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2013/0409-measuring-microbes-makes-wetland-health-monitoring-more-affordable-says-mu-researcher/

Share this story with your friends!

Social Networking

Please recommend us on Facebook, Twitter and more:

Other social media tools

Global Partners
Feedback

Tell us what you think of Chemistry 2011 -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?

About us

Chemistry2011 is an informational resource for students, educators and the self-taught in the field of chemistry. We offer resources such as course materials, chemistry department listings, activities, events, projects and more along with current news releases.

Events & Activities

Are you interested in listing an event or sharing an activity or idea? Perhaps you are coordinating an event and are in need of additional resources? Within our site you will find a variety of activities and projects your peers have previously submitted or which have been freely shared through creative commons licenses. Here are some highlights: Featured Idea 1, Featured Idea 2.

About you

Ready to get involved? The first step is to sign up by following the link: Join Here. Also don’t forget to fill out your profile including any professional designations.

Global Partners