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Collecting Cyanobacteria in the Great Basin Salt Flats in Utah, Summer, 2007

The Story

    I have always been a collector, and I love field work. Thus, after our annual Aspen trip this summer, Ann and I decided to travel to Utah for a week to do some algal collecting. David Nobles flew up and joined us at Salt Lake City. Then we were on our way!

    We were looking for cyanobacteria that tolerate high salinity and heat as well as the intense solar radiation of these interesting desert areas. We found some fantastic cyanobacteria. Below is how we did some collecting.

Here is David doing some "shoreline" collecting at Bear Lake in Northern Utah. We found some very interesting cyanobacteria from this location even though this is freshwater.

Here is a typical collecting site in a salt pan. This bit of water remained after rains and had lots of great algae including cyanobacteria.


Here one can observe some "black" mats of cyanobacteria on the surface of the caked up mud.

The cyanobacterial algal profile is easily seen in a "sectioned" piece of the mud cake. These cyanobacteria and mobile and can either move to the surface and obtain sunlight and start photosynthesizing, or they can move into the subsurface and avoid too many dangerous UV rays from sunlight.

A nice detail of the cyanobacterial profile in the mud cake.


Here is an extremely halophic pond from a local salt producer. The alga, Dunaliella is what gives this water the red color. Not much else will grow in these extreme environments.


After a hard day's collecting, we set up the microscopes and cameras and get to work in the motel room. This was really a "fun

Another view of our "mobile lab". David is placing some Parafilm around a Petri dish culture that is going to be incubated with an enrichment medium.