Microbial Ecology

This proposal leverages existing strengths at UHM in the area of environmental microbiology and supports the UH Microbiome Initiative goals of broad sampling of microbiomes across the contiguous watershed. Student and community-led collection efforts, conducted synoptically with water quality fieldwork, will be paired with student and researcher analysis of microbial metagenomics to assess the holistic phylogenetic diversity and genetic content of microbial communities. These data are a direct window into the causes and consequences of shifting water quality on ecosystem process and human health, and existing courses (OCN 457 and others) and community outreach programs (ongoing through PICSC, WRRC and Sea Grant in cooperation with HDOH) already collect and generate these data using CMORE and WRRC infrastructure. Furthermore, these same sample sets will be used to implement testing for targeted human health risk indicator microbes, including both culture-based assays within HDOH regulatory frameworks and molecular assays being certified by USEPA. Together these approaches will provide training and outreach opportunities in both the basic microbial ecology of the watershed as well as direct links to water quality efforts ongoing across the state.