The microalgae of Itasca State Park, Minnesota, lakes.

Microbial Observatory at Itasca State Park - Supported by the National Science Foundation

This site was formerly located at North Dakota State University, where the Itasca Microbial Observatory was funded by the National Science Foundation.  In 2006, we relocated to the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Investigators:

Marvin W. Fawley, Ph.D. and Karen P. Fawley, Ph.D., University of Arkansas at Monticello  

Former students and postdoc

Joni Johnson, former graduate student, North Dakota State University (MS, 2005)

Mohamed Fakhr, Ph.D., North Dakota State University, former postdoc

Tanie Brodigan, Instructor at Bismarck State College

Matt Hoffman, former graduate student, North Dakota State University

Michelle Dean, former graduate student, North Dakota State University (MS, 2001)

Steph Dimmer, former undergraduate student, North Dakota State University                            

Abby Brauch, former undergraduate student, North Dakota State University

Alison Hagameister, former undergraduate student, North Dakota State University

Jordan Sand, former undergraduate student, North Dakota State University

Shawn Parisian, undergraduate student, North Dakota State University

Nathan Probst, undergraduate student, University of Arkansas at Monticello

Sara Prior, undergraduate student, University of Arkansas at Monticello

 Educational Section    

Collaborative Projects

Additional Collaborators:                                                                                                                

Heather Owen, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Mark Buchheim, Ph.D., The University of Tulsa

Julie Buchheim, The University of Tulsa

Marek Elias, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Hilary McManus, Le Moyne College

New Species Link


Project Goals

We are isolating and identifying coccoid algae from several lakes and ponds in Itasca State Park.  In order to identify these organisms, we first establish unialgal cultures of coccoid algae from water samples.  DNA is then isolated from each algal culture, and the appropriate loci are then amplifed using PCR.  Initially, we screened many isolates using PCR-RFLP of either 18S rDNA or rbcL.  For this procedure, PCR products are cut with restriction enzymes and the resulting DNA fragments separated by gel electrophoresis (PCR-RFLP).  At this point in the project, long past NSF funding, we are slowly working through the isolates using sequence analysis to identify and ultimately name new species and genera.  We have also moved away from working with 18S from many of our isolates, as this is a poor locus to evaluate species level differences.  Today, we work primarily with rbcL and ribosomal ITS.  All isolates are also characterized by light microscopy.  By working with isolates from different sites, we hope to begin to understand the ecology and distribution of these organisms.

The major goals of this project are to identify new species of coccoid algae and to investigate the distribution and ecology of these organisms.

Project Goals:

1) discovery of new taxa

2) develop reliable genetic criteria for the identification of coccoid algae

3) establish a reference collection of coccoid algae for taxonomic and phylogenetic investigations

4) understand the distribution and population dynamics of different taxa of coccoid algae in different lake types

5) investigate higher-level systematics of coccoid algae

6) involve other phycologists working with additional algal groups


Publications from the Itasca MO.

Fawley, M.W. and Fawley, K.P. 2004. A simple and rapid technique for the isolation of DNA from microalgae.  Journal of Phycology 40:223-225.  Full text online. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Phycology 2004, the Phycological Society of America.

Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P., and Buchheim, M.A.  2004.  Molecular diversity among communities of freshwater microchlorophytes.  Microbial Ecology 48:489-499, online at: http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/s00248-004-0214-4

Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P. and Owen, H.A. 2005. Diversity and ecology of small coccoid green algae from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, USA, including Meyerella planktonica, gen. et sp. nov. (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta).  Phycologia 44:35-48.  Abstract

W. J. Henley, J. L. Hironaka, L. Guillou, M. A. Buchheim, J. A. Buchheim, M. W. Fawley and K. P. Fawley.  2004. Phylogenetic analysis of the "Nannochloris-like" algae and diagnoses of Picochlorum oklahomensis gen. et sp. nov. (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta).  Phycologia 43:641-652.  Abstract

M.W. Fawley, M. L. Dean, S. K. Dimmer, and K. P. Fawley. Evaluating the morphospecies concept in the Selenastraceae (Chlorophyceae, Chlorophyta). 2006. Journal of Phycology 42:142-154.  Full text online. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Phycology 2006, the Phycological Society of America.

Johnson, J.L., Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P.  2007.  The diversity of Scenedesmus and Desmodesmus (Chlorophyceae) in Itasca State Park, Minnesota, USA.  Phycologia 46:214-229.

Fawley, K.P. and Fawley, M.W.  2007.  Observations on the diversity and ecology of freshwater Nannochloropsis (Eustigmatophyceae), with descriptions of new taxa.  Protist 158:325-336.

Prior, S.E., Fawley, M.W., and Fawley, K.P. 2009. DNA Sequence Analysis of Freshwater Eustigmatophyceae, a Potential Source of Essential Fatty Acids.  Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Sciences 63:139-144Full text online.

Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P., Hegewald, E.  2011. Taxonomy of Desmodesmus serratus (Chlorophyceae, Chlorophyta) and related taxa based upon morphological and DNA sequence data.  Phycologia 50:23-56.  Full text online.

Manuscripts submitted 

None at the moment!

Papers using specimens isolated by the Itasca MO or DNA sequence data generated through this project.

Please note:  if you know of additional uses of our isolates or data, please let us know so that we may include them as well.

Kai, A., Yoshii, Y., Nakayama, T. and Inouye, I.  2008.  Aurearenophyceae classis nova, a New Class of Heterokontophyta Based on a New Marine Unicellular Alga Aurearena cruciata gen. et sp. nov. Inhabiting Sandy Beaches.  Protist 159:435-457.  Used our isolates Mary 8/18 S-7d (CCMP2290) and Mary 8/18 S-2d  (CCMP2289).  These are both isolates of a unnamed phaeothamniophyte that is common in the phytoplankton of Mary Lake.

Citations for specific Itasca MO papers:

Papers citing Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P., and Buchheim, M.A.  2004.  Molecular diversity among communities of freshwater microchlorophytes.  Microbial Ecology 48:489-499

Papers citing Johnson, J.L., Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P.  2007.  The diversity of Scenedesmus and Desmodesmus (Chlorophyceae) in Itasca State Park, Minnesota, USA.  Phycologia 46:214-229.

Papers citing  Fawley, M.W., Fawley, K.P. and Owen, H.A. 2005. Diversity and ecology of small coccoid green algae from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, USA, including Meyerella planktonica, gen. et sp. nov. (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta).  Phycologia 44:35-48.  

 

 

 

 


New findings

The Eustigmatophyceae of Itasca State Park.

The Eustigmatophyceae are a group of yellow-green algae (chromophytes).  The class is considered to comprise a single order and 7 genera with only a few species (John, Whitton and Brook, The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles).  However, we have found abundant diversity among eustig isolates in Itasca State Park.  Some of this diversity has been characterized by 18S rDNA and rbcL sequence analysis and a manuscript describing some of the diversity is in press.  In the meantime, data on our eustigmatophye isolates have been compiled by site and can be viewed on this web site.  See also our results on the eustigmatophyte, Nannochloropsis, below.

Lake Itasca Eustigmatophyceae

Mary Lake Eustigmatophyceae

North Deming Pond Eustigmatophyceae

Tower Pond Eustigmatophyceae

Picnic Pond Eustigmatophyceae

West Twin Lake and Bog D Eustigmatophyceae


Choricystis Lipids

A new study of the lipids and hydrocarbons of five isolates of Choricystis indicates that in these widespread freshwater picoalgae, variations in hydrocarbon and fatty alcohol compositions are conguent with the evolutionary history of this group as determined by analysis of the rbcL gene sequence.  These findings indicate that Choricystis is highly diverse and probably should be split into multiple genera and several species.  Work is ongoing to expand this survey to additional isolates.  Our large and diverse collection, mostly derived from the Itasca Microbial Observatory, will provide the bulk of the isolates for this project.  Results of this study were presented at the 22nd International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (22nd IMOG), Seville, Spain,12-16 September 2005, by our colleague, Pierre Metzger, Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Paris.  


Nannochloropsis

We have recently been investigating the diversity among our isolates of Nannochloropsis (Eustigmatophyceae).  Most described species of Nannochloropsis are marine, but a single species of freshwater Nannochloropsis, N. limnetica, has been described previously, based upon habitat and 18S rDNA sequence.  During our studies of the lakes of the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge (ND) we isolated 25 Nannochloropsis isolates.  We have only a single isolate from this lineage from Itasca.  One of these types possesses sequences identical to N. limnetica from Germany, but the others have been described as new varieties of N. limentica.  Our intensive sampling has also allowed us to determine that Nannochloropsis spp. are common only during cold water periods.  Some pictures of these organisms are below.   See Protist 158:325-336 (2007).

In Fall, 2009, we discovered another Nannochloropsis isolate among our Itasca MO strains.  This isolate, from Picnic Pond, has been characterized by rbcL sequence analysis and the sequence suggests that it represents yet another new taxon.  We also characterized a Nannochloropsis strain isolated from Lake Christina, Minnesota, and this strain possess an rbcL sequence identical to that of Nannochloropsis limnetica var. globosa, previously known only from the Arrowwood lakes.

AS3-9, an Arrowwood isolate of  Nannochloropsis limnetica var. limnetica.

AN 1/12-5, a new Nannochloropsis taxon from Arrowwood, N. limnetica var. gutta.

 Tow 2/24 P-1w, a new Nannochloropsis taxon, N. limnetica var. dystrophica from Itasca.


Interesting news

Our paper,  Fawley, K.P. and Fawley, M.W.  2007.  Observations on the diversity and ecology of freshwater Nannochloropsis (Eustigmatophyceae), with descriptions of new taxa.  Protist 158:325-336,  is listed as number 13 in ScienceDirect's Hot Picks from the journal Protist for the academic year 2009-2010.  This designation indicates that our paper was the 13th most accessed article from Protist during that period.   See http://top25.sciencedirect.com/subject/immunology-and-microbiology/14/journal/protist/14344610/archive/29

oni Johnson, MS student at NDSU, received a Grant-in-aid-of-research from the Phycological Society of America to study the ultrastructure of Itasca isolates of Desmodesmus.  Joni received her MS in 2005.

Congratulations to Mariah Veit, undergrad at The University of Tulsa, who won an award at the SACNAS conference for her Itasca MO poster "Molecular Diversity of Green Microalgae: The Itasca Example."  Below is a TU press release on the conference ---

Five undergraduate students represented the University of Tulsa at the SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) national meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 2-5, 2003. Britney Grayson, Tamara James, Jacob Painter and Mariah Veit from Biological Science, and Matthew Morgan from Mathematics and Computer Sciences, all presented poster talks on their research. There were over 400 posters and 36 graduate student oral presentations given by the more than 2,000 students from across the United States and Puerto Rico. Mariah Veit earned one of 14 awards given in Biology, which represented the top 6% of presentations in that discipline.


Links to other NSF Microbial Observatory Web Pages (Thanks to Bill Henley and the Salt Plains Microbial Observatory)


Our study sites include Lake Itasca, Mary Lake, Tower Pond, Picnic Pond, North Deming Pond, Bog D, and West Twin Lake.  All are located within Itasca State Park, Minnesota, location of the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Mary Lake      BogD

Lake Itasca    Picnic Pond

North Deming Pond  

 West Twin Lake



Presentations resulting from this work.

"The Pseudodictyosphaerium/Mychonastes Species Complex: Common Phytoplankters from Minnesota and North Dakota Lakes."  Poster presented at the Phycological Society of America meeting at Estes Park, CO, July, 2001. (Pictures of organisms are low resolution in this PDF file). M. Fawley, K. Fawley

"The Diversity of Life from Domains to Species."  Invited presentation by Marvin Fawley at the Evolution Symposium, North Dakota State University, Sept., 2001.

"Diversity of Coccoid Algae in Minnesota and North Dakota lakes."  Presentation at the Phycological Society of America meeting at Madison, Wisconsin, August 2002. (PowerPoint presentation). M. Fawley, K. Fawley

"Differences among coccoid algae communities in North Dakota and Minnesota Lakes."  Presentation at the Phycological Society of America meeting at Madison, Wisconsin, August 2002. K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Assessing the biodiversity of Monoraphidium using 18S rDNA sequences."  Presentation at the Phycological Society of America meeting at Madison, Wisconsin, August 2002. M. Dean, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity of fusiform microchlorophyte algae from Itasca State Park, Minnesota."  Poster resentation at the Phycological Society of America meeting at Madison, Wisconsin, August 2002. S. Dimmer, M. Dean, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity and Evolution of Autosporic Phytoplankton."  Presentation to the Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University, Sept., 2002. (PowerPoint) M. Fawley

"Species diversity and community structure of coccoid algae."  Microbial Observatories Project at Itasca State Park, Minnesota."  Poster presented at the Microbial Observatories/LExEn Principal Investigators Workshop, Sept., 2002. M. Fawley, K. Fawley  Abstract book from the MO/LExEN Principal Investigators Workshop.

"Diversity, Distribution, and Evolution of Coccoid Phytoplankton."  Presentation to the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Tulsa, Oct., 2002. M. Fawley

"A Simple and Rapid Technique for the Isolation of DNA from Microalgae." J. Phycol. 40:223-225 (2004). M.Fawley and K.Fawley.  Full text on-line. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Phycology 2004, the Phycological Society of America.

"Phylogeny and Systematics of Pseudodictyosphaerium, Mychonastes and Related Coccoid Green Algae (Chlorophyceae)."  Presentation at the Phycological Society of America Annual Meeting at Gleneden Beach, OR, June, 2003. M. Fawley, K. Fawley

"Diversity of fusiform Microchlorophyte Algae from Minnesota and North Dakota." Presentation at the Phycological Society of America Annual Meeting at Gleneden Beach, OR, June, 2003. S. Dimmer, M. Dean, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity of the Choricysits (Chlorophyta, Trebouxiophyceae) from Minnesota and North Dakota Lakes." Presentation at the Phycological Society of America Annual Meeting at Gleneden Beach, OR, June, 2003. K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity of Scenedesmus from Itasca State Park, Minnesota." Presentation at the Phycological Society of America Annual Meeting at Gleneden Beach, OR, June, 2003. J. Johnson, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity of Choricystis (Chlorophyta,Trebouxiophyceae) from Minnesota and North Dakota Lakes."  Presentation to the Department of Biolgical Sciences, North Dakota State University, Sept., 2003. K. Fawley

"Diversity of fusiform Microchlorophyte Algae from Minnesota and North Dakota." Joint North Dakota/South Dakota EPSCoR conference, Fargo, ND, Sept. 2003. S. Dimmer, M. Dean, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Diversity of Scenedesmus from Itasca State Park, Minnesota." Joint North Dakota/South Dakota EPSCoR conference, Fargo, ND, Sept. 2003. J. Johnson, K. Fawley, M. Fawley

"Biodiversity and species concepts: the eustigmatophyte paradigm."  Bailey JC, Misner IJ, Gable JE, Fawley MW and Fawley KP. 25th Annual Southeastern Phycological Colloquy, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, Oct. 24-26, 2003

"Molecular Diversity of Green Microalgae: The Itasca Example." Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science national meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 2-5, 2003. Mariah Veit, The University of Tulsa

"Molecular diversity among communities of freshwater microchlorophytes." Fawley,M.W., Fawley, K.P., and Buchheim, M.A. Microbial Ecology, Online at: http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/s00248-004-0214-4

"Diversity and ecology of freshwater Nannochloropsis (Eustigmatophyceae)." Fawley, K.P. and Fawley, M.W.  Phycological Scociety of America Annual Meeting, Williamsburg, VA, August, 2004.

"Diversity of Chlamydomonadalean algae at Itasca State Park."  Veit, M., Buchheim, J.A., Portman, R., Fawley, K.,Fawley, M. and Buchheim, M. Phycological Scociety of America Annual Meeting, Williamsburg, VA, August, 2004.

"A comparison of ITS sequences and cell wall structure of Scendesmus and Desmodesmus."  Johnson, J. L., Fawley, K.P. and Fawley, M.W. Phycological Scociety of America Annual Meeting, Williamsburg, VA, August, 2004.

"The challenge of green algal diversity."  Fawley, M.W. and Fawley, K.P. Phycological Scociety of America Annual Meeting, Williamsburg, VA, August, 2004.

"Eukaryotic microbial diversity:  the Chlamydomonas example."  Invited seminar by Mark Buchheim, California State University, Fresno, November 5, 2004.

"Lipid composition of some picophytoplanktonic Choricystis species from freshwater lakes.  New insight into biomarkers from genetic studies."  P. Metzger, K.P. Fawley, M.W. Fawley.  22nd International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (22nd IMOG), Seville, Spain,12-16 September 2005.

"Species Diversity among coccoid Eustigmatophyceae (Heterokontophyta)."  Bailey, J.C., Fawley, M.W. and Fawley, K.P.  Phycological Society of America Annual Meeting, Juneau, AK, 2006

"New observations on the biology of eustigmatophytes, with a description of Microtalis gen. nov.  Dashiell, C. and Bailey, J.C.  New Orleans, LA, 2008.

"DNA Sequence Analysis of Freshwater Eustigmatophyceae, a Potential Source of Essential Fatty Acids."  Presented by Sara Prior at the Arkansas INBRE conference, Fayetteville, AR, Nov. 2008; Arkansas Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting, Clarksville, AR, April 2009; and Arkansas Space Grant Consortium Research Conference, Petit Jean Mountain, AR, April 2009.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI-0070387 and MCB-0084188. Additional funding provided by North Dakota EPSCoR, the North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute, University of Arkansas at Monticello Faculty Research Grants, Arkansas INBRE and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium.

Last updated October 8, 2010.