Camrin Rivera, Westminster College
The Great Salt Lake (GSL) of Utah is home to organisms that are able to survive and reproduce in waters that can have a salt concentration of over 30%. Oil Jetty is located on the saltier north arm of the GSL and is the location of a natural hydrocarbon seep that flows into the lake. Previous work showed that organisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons can be cultured from this area (Ward & Brcok, 1978). It has also been shown that the salt concentration has an inverse relationship with these organisms’ ability to degrade hydrocarbons (Ward & Brock, 1978). This previous study gives insight of the hydrocarbon degrading capabilities of microorganisms in the GSL; however, the identification and characterization of individual hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms has yet to be completed. The purpose of this study is to identify GSL microorganisms capable of degrading hydrocarbons under high salinities by sequencing of the 16s rRNA gene. Future studies will include the characterization of these microorganisms in order to find isolates whose hydrocarbon degrading abilities could be utilized for bioremediation and biotechnologies.