Habitat specific differences in persistence and effects of introduced cellulolytic bacteria used as surrogates for GEMS

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Bott, T.L. and L.A. Kaplan. 1992. Pages 135–139 in J.E. Harvey (editor). Proceedings of the 4th Investigators Meeting for EPA’s Biotechnology-Biological Control Agent Risk Assessment Research Program, Report No. EPA/600/R-92/147. U.S. EPA. Gulf Breeze, Florida.

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These studies have three primary objectives: a) to determine the persistence of introduced bacteria in natural benthic aquatic communities, b) to test several community and ecosystem level response variables in order to pinpoint those most useful for detecting effects of the introduced organism, and c) to evaluate the utility of mesocosms for assessing the fate and effects of genetically engineered microorganisms (GEMS) in natural systems. We have worked with surrogates for a GEM with enhanced cellulose degrading capability. Cellulose “superdegrader” GEMs and their products are of industrial interest and may find application in the conversion of biomass to fuel. The use of a surrogate expedites field studies, although we recognize that a surrogate will not mimic a GEM in all physiological and ecological respects. Our research focuses on stream ecosystems since they often receive waste discharges and non-point source inputs. White Clay Creek, the study stream, drains a protected rural watershed in southeaster (Chester County) Pennsylvania.