Title

Eukaryotic Microbial Diversity Of The Icemole; A Revolutionary Exploratory Ice Probe Combining Melting And Drilling

Author(s)

Sara Watson

School Name

South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics

Grade Level

12th Grade

Presentation Topic

Microbiology

Presentation Type

Mentored

Mentor

Mentor: Jill Mikucki, Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Abstract

The IceMole is an ice probe combining melting and drilling technologies for use in environments such as Antarctica and Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. The Minimally Invasive Direct Glacial Exploration (MIDGE) project focuses on keeping the IceMole sterile in these environments so as to avoid contaminating fragile ecosystems. Last field season (approximately November to February), the IceMole conducted field tests in Antarctica. Prior to complete sterilization, the IceMole was swabbed to test for DNA. The results showed DNA, as expected. During field tests, meltwater from drilling was collected. Tests again confirmed the presence of DNA, so a clone library was constructed using Polymerse Chain Reaction (PCR) transformation and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) techniques. Sequencing results showed no bacterial contamination in either the rinses or the swabs. The rinse water contained marine and ice-specific fungi. However, the swabs showed common skin and air fungi, likely from the environment where the IceMole was originally built. Although DNA testing results after sterilization yielded nothing, future researchers will now be aware of what organisms might contaminate results and the environment if sterilization fails.

Start Date

4-11-2015 9:15 AM

End Date

4-11-2015 9:30 AM

COinS
 
Apr 11th, 9:15 AM Apr 11th, 9:30 AM

Eukaryotic Microbial Diversity Of The Icemole; A Revolutionary Exploratory Ice Probe Combining Melting And Drilling

The IceMole is an ice probe combining melting and drilling technologies for use in environments such as Antarctica and Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. The Minimally Invasive Direct Glacial Exploration (MIDGE) project focuses on keeping the IceMole sterile in these environments so as to avoid contaminating fragile ecosystems. Last field season (approximately November to February), the IceMole conducted field tests in Antarctica. Prior to complete sterilization, the IceMole was swabbed to test for DNA. The results showed DNA, as expected. During field tests, meltwater from drilling was collected. Tests again confirmed the presence of DNA, so a clone library was constructed using Polymerse Chain Reaction (PCR) transformation and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) techniques. Sequencing results showed no bacterial contamination in either the rinses or the swabs. The rinse water contained marine and ice-specific fungi. However, the swabs showed common skin and air fungi, likely from the environment where the IceMole was originally built. Although DNA testing results after sterilization yielded nothing, future researchers will now be aware of what organisms might contaminate results and the environment if sterilization fails.