Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Emily Stowe-Evans

Abstract

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms that require the absorption of light for the completion of photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria can use a variety of wavelengths of light within thevisible light spectrum in order to harvest energy for this process. Many species of cyanobacteria have light-harvesting proteins that specialize in the absorption of a small range of wavelengths oflight along the visual light spectrum; others can undergo complementary chromatic adaptation and alter these light-harvesting proteins in order to absorb the wavelengths of light that are mostavailable in a given environment. This variation in light-harvesting phenotype across cyanobacteria leads to the utilization of environmental niches based on light wavelength availability. Furthermore, light attenuation along the water column in an aquatic system also leads to the formation of environmental niches throughout the vertical water column. In order to better understand these niches based on light wavelength availability, we studied the compositionof cyanobacterial genera at the surface and depth of Lake Chillisquaque at three time points throughout the year: September 2009, May 2010, and July 2010. We found that cyanobacterialgenera composition changes throughout the year as well as with physical location in the water column. Additionally, given the light attenuation noted throughout the Lake Chillisquaque, we are able to conclude that light is a major selective factor in the community composition of Lake Chillisquaque.

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