2004 Progress Report: Microbial Biofilms as Indicators of Estuarine Ecosystem Condition

EPA Grant Number: R829458C002
Subproject: this is subproject number 002 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829458
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EAGLES - Consortium for Estuarine Ecoindicator Research for the Gulf of Mexico
Center Director: Brouwer, Marius
Title: Microbial Biofilms as Indicators of Estuarine Ecosystem Condition
Investigators: Lepo, Joe , Snyder, Richard
Current Investigators: Lepo, Joe , Proctor, Lita , Snyder, Richard
Institution: University of West Florida
Current Institution: University of West Florida , University of Southern Mississippi
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: December 1, 2001 through November 30, 2005 (Extended to May 20, 2007)
Project Period Covered by this Report: December 1, 2003 through November 30, 2004
RFA: Environmental Indicators in the Estuarine Environment Research Program (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration

Objective:

A primary objective of this component of the Consortium for Estuarine Ecoindicator Research for the Gulf of Mexico (CEER-GOM) is to establish unequivocal linkages to biofilms endpoints that also integrate well into the current framework of water quality monitoring used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and regional regulatory agencies. Biofilm indicators seem to meet the requirements of critical balance between an unstable or hyperreactive indicator system and an unresponsive or insensitive indicator system.

Progress Summary:

Molecular analyses of biofilm microbial community diversity and richness continue to elucidate habitat fidelity and response to specific stressors such as hypoxia. These efforts are detailed in our previous annual reports and in our recent publication (Nocker, et al., 2004).

Field sampling has added Mobile Bay and the Weeks Bay sub-estuary of that system in addition to the Pensacola Bay system work. Additional sampling activity was conducted in collaboration with the Pearl laboratory in the Neuse River and with the State of Florida water quality sampling in the Big Bend region.

Sample processing to complete the 2003 dataset and building the 2004 data set have occupied most of the activity during this reporting period. Emphasis has been on developing a data set to describe the response of biofilms relative to the horizontal and vertical (stratification) gradients in the Escambia Bay estuary and to continue to develop the interannual data set of salt marsh and open water biofilm samples conducted in conjunction with the larger CEER-GOM effort. The addition of Mobile and Weeks Bay estuaries adds a cross-system dimension to these datasets. We have established assays for nitrogenase (acetylene reduction) and denitrification potential (acetylene block) in the laboratory and have measured these activities in surface and benthic biofilms collected from Weeks Bay, Mobile Bay, East Bay, and Pensacola Bay during the summer 2004 sampling season. In summary, none of the biofilms had detectable acetylene reduction activity, which was not surprising given N-loads of ambient waters, and denitrification activity was detectable in all biofilms and was noticeably higher in benthic biofilms relative to surface biofilms.

Microcosms were run during August in the laboratory. Estuarine water, collected daily from Escambia Bay was used to replenish the supply carboys. Four treatments were established: (1) control, no added nutrients; (2) added NH4Cl; (3) added NaNO3; and (4) added NO3, NH4, and PO4. Average pixel density of the resulting biofilms after 7 days for each treatment showed a clear response to nutrient amendment. Biofilms from microcosms had no detectable acetylene reduction activity in any of the treatments. Denitrification activities were lowest in control biofilms and the same in all three nutrient-amended treatments. Phosphatase activities are markedly depressed in biofilms exposed to added phosphate. Many observations of biofilm community structure, biomass, and activities support that microbial biofilms can signal biological responses that may be logically and experimentally linked to specific stressors (e.g., nutrient-loading, hypoxia, and possibly other factors).

Future Activities:

Plans for the Coming Field Season

The Biofilms component will be sampling the Escambia Bay portion of the Pensacola Bay system to extend the 3D data set for comparison to water quality and planktonic chlorophyll distributions. The sites coordinated with the CEER-GOM group include Week’s Bay and East Bay.

We will assist Dr. Luoheng Han’s remote sensing analysis of chlorophyll by collecting water quality data in Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay.

The analysis of data from 2004 continues, with analyses of samples from 2004 nearly complete.

Analysis of the multiyear and multi-system data set will be the primary focus of Year 4 activity.

The stable isotope mass spectrometer at EPA’s Gulf Ecology Division was damaged during Hurricane Ivan and may not be replaced. We are exploring other collaborations to pursue this work.

Development and Testing of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

SOPs are complete for the operation of laboratory microcosms. SOPs also are complete for all enzyme activities nitrogenase (acetylene reduction), denitrification potential (acetylene block), phosphatase, and fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis to be used with microcosm- and field-generated biofilms.


Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 27 publications 4 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Other center views: All 171 publications 54 publications in selected types All 48 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Moss JA, Nocker A, Lepo JE, Snyder RA. Stability and change in estuarine biofilm bacterial community diversity. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2006;72(9):5679-5688. R829458 (2005)
R829458C002 (2004)
R829458C002 (2005)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Abstract: Applied and Environmental Microbiology-Abstract
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  • Other: Applied and Environmental Microbiology-Full Text PDF
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  • Journal Article Nocker A, Lepo JE, Snyder RA. Influence of an oyster reef on development of the microbial heterotrophic community of an estuarine biofilm. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2004;70(11):6834-6845. R829458 (2005)
    R829458C002 (2003)
    R829458C002 (2004)
  • Full-text from PubMed
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  • Abstract: Applied and Environmental Microbiology-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Nocker A, Lepo JE, Martin LL, Snyder RA. Response of estuarine biofilm microbial community development to changes in dissolved oxygen and nutrient concentrations. Microbial Ecology 2007;54(3):532-542. R829458 (2005)
    R829458C002 (2004)
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    population, community, ecosystem, watersheds, estuary, estuaries, Gulf of Mexico, nutrients, hypoxia, innovative technology, biomarkers, water quality, remote sensing, geographic information system, GIS, integrated assessment, risk assessment, fisheries, conservation, restoration, monitoring/modeling, benthic indicators, ecological exposure, ecosystem monitoring, environmental indicators, environmental stress, estuarine ecoindicator, estuarine integrity,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, estuarine research, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Aquatic Ecosystem, Aquatic Ecosystems, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, Gulf of Mexico, Ecological Indicators, monitoring, ecoindicator, ecological exposure, remote sensing, estuaries, estuarine integrity, Mobile Bay, microbial biofilms, Galveston Bay, Apalachicola Bay, estuarine ecoindicator, environmental indicators, environmental stress, estuarine waters, restoration, water quality

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/ceer_gom/ Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829458    EAGLES - Consortium for Estuarine Ecoindicator Research for the Gulf of Mexico

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829458C001 Remote Sensing of Water Quality
    R829458C002 Microbial Biofilms as Indicators of Estuarine Ecosystem Condition
    R829458C003 Individual Level Indicators: Molecular Indicators of Dissolved Oxygen Stress in Crustaceans
    R829458C004 Data Management and Analysis
    R829458C005 Individual Level Indicators: Reproductive Function in Estuarine Fishes
    R829458C006 Collaborative Efforts Between CEER-GOM and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-Gulf Ecology Division (GED)
    R829458C007 GIS and Terrestrial Remote Sensing
    R829458C008 Macrobenthic Process Indicators of Estuarine Condition for the Northern Gulf of Mexico
    R829458C009 Modeling and Integration