Current Research Projects

Lake Champlain Cyanobacteria and Cyanophage

The Eggleston Lab has been recommended for national USGS funding to investigate cyanobacteria and cyanophage in Lake Champlain. This 2021-2022 grant is titled “Vermont cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom ecology and toxin biosynthesis gene activity: a path to novel management strategies.” With this funding we hope to determine the diversity of cyanobacteria, especially bloom-forming, toxin-producing cyanobacteria, and their viruses. This information will also allow us to investigate toxin gene mobility in these population. In this blog post we outline the initial sampling trip from 2018 and summer 2019 efforts were captured by the Middlebury Newsroom.

Dysbiosis and the Coral Holobiont

Coral reef ecosystems face severe threats from anthropogenic climate change at local, regional, and global scales. A recent paper with co-authors investigated the coral holobiont (i.e. coral host, microalgae, and bacteria and archaea) to assess variation in a thermotolerant reef system off of Abaco, The Bahamas. We hope to continue some work with coral samples investigating dysbiosis, or microbial community changes, that may contribute to the onset and progression of a novel and devastating coral disease, stony tissue coral loss disease (SCTLD).

Extremophilic Adaptations to pH and Temperature

In collaboration with Dr. Wil Leavitt and members of the Leavitt Lab at Dartmouth College we are interested in how extremophilic archaea thrive in low pH and high temperature conditions. Using a few model archaeal systems (i.e. Sulfolobus islandicus and Sulfolobus acidocaldarius) we are using RT-qPCR to investigate transcript copy number related to archaeal lipid cyclization under different growth conditions.

Toxoplasma gondii Exposure in Traditional Foods

The newest collaborative investigation between the Eggleston and Byrne Labs is assessing the presence of T. gondii, the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, in traditional food sources and a potential route of exposure that might disproportionately impact indigenous communities.

Mercury Methylation in River Wetland Sediments

The Eggleston Lab collaborated with Dr. Michael Twiss at Clarkson University and Dr. Jeff Ridal at St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences to understand and track mercury mobilization in the St. Lawrence River. Our contribution is to study the mercury-methylating microbes and their activity in river wetland sediments to understand the microbial component of this mobilization. We extract DNA and identify microbes using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, and are currently optimizing qPCR for the mercury-methylating genes hgcAB. Initial findings were published with Clarkson University PhD candidate Evie Brahmstedt as lead author, “Assessment of mercury mobilization potential in Upper St. Lawrence River riparian wetlands under new water level regulation management.”