Welcome to the homepage of the Salt Plains Microbial Observatory, a collaborative project between researchers at Oklahoma State University, Wichita State University, and the University of Tulsa.  Funding is from the U. S. National Science Foundation. 

E Use the navigation buttons at left to access information about this project.

Follow the Images link at left for pics and video of our recent trip to the SP with NSF's Matt Kane.


E This is a low-resolution (72 dpi) image of the Great Salt Plains (GSP) region from the 2003 National Aerial Inventory Program.  Click on the image to access a higher-resolution (600 dpi) image (~10 MB).  The town of Cherokee is visible at the far left.

(The words in blue below are defined on the FAQs link.)

The SPMO has characterized the diversity of eubacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, and cyanobacteria from GSP soil and water. Our primary approach was to isolate hundreds of microbes into pure culture, characterize their physiology and biochemistry, and sequence their 16/18S rRNA genes. A subset of fifty unique strains of cyanobacteria and algae has been deposited in national culture collections, and efforts are underway to deposit selected heterotrophic bacteria. Many GSP microbes grow at salinities from nearly fresh water to at least half-saturation, and survive prolonged periods at levels approaching saturation. We have shown selected bacteria to have high rates of spontaneous mutation and constitutive DNA repair. We have isolated bacteriophages associated with GSP bacteria, suggesting a role for transduction in bacterial adaptation at the GSP. A culture-independent clone library of cyanobacterial diversity revealed adequate representation among isolates in some clades, but poorer coverage in others. All of these observations are consistent with the hypothesis that a dynamically stressful GSP environment drives microbial adaptive radiation below the genus level.

This page is maintained by William Henley, and was last updated 21 March 2008.