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Pond Crash Forensics: Presumptive identification of pond crash agents by next generation sequencing in replicate raceway mass cultures of Nannochloropsis salina

Carney, Laura T., Wilkenfeld, Joshua S., Lane, Pam D., Solberg, Owen D., Fuqua, Zachary B., Cornelius, Nina G., Gillespie, Shaunette, Williams, Kelly P., Samocha, Tzachi M., Lane, Todd W.
Algal research 2016 v.17 pp. 341-347
Brachionus, Nannochloropsis, algae, algivores, biomass, forensic sciences, genes, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, microbiome, pathogens, raceways, ribosomal RNA
Productivity of algal mass culture can be severely reduced by contaminating organisms. It is, therefore, important to identify contaminants, determine their effect on productivity and, ultimately, develop countermeasures against such contamination. In the present study we utilized microbiome analysis by second-generation sequencing of small subunit rRNA genes to characterize the predator and pathogen burden of open raceway cultures of Nannochloropsis salina. Samples were analyzed from replicate raceways before and after crashes. In one culture cycle, we identified two algivorous species, the rotifer Brachionus and gastrotrich Chaetonotus, the presence of which may have contributed to the loss of algal biomass. In the second culture cycle, the raceways were treated with hypochlorite in an unsuccessful attempt to interdict the crash. Our analyses were shown to be an effective strategy for the identification of the biological contaminants and the characterization of intervention strategies.