Microorganisms play an important role in many environmental processes, including bioremediation of contaminants in Apalachicola Bay. The rapid response of certain microorganisms, specifically benthic foraminifers (shelled protists), to develop resistance to heavy metal pollution has led to their widespread use as bioindicators of ecosystem health in coastal and estuarine ecosystems. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms responsible for their heavy metal resistance and roles these mechanisms might play in decontamination processes. It is thought that associated microbial communities may be an important part of these mechanisms. This project is funded by a NAS Gulf Research Program fellow collaborative grant.
This project is in collaboration with Dr. Cameron Thrash (University of Southern California).