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Ongoing Project: Investigation of the Presence and Role of Poly-phosphate Accumulating Microorganism (PAOs) in Phosphorus Cycle and Utilization in Lake and Sediment

April Gu and the Gu lab in Civil Engineering at Cornell.

A better understanding of the P cycling in natural environments is of great significance for global P management. Although it is ultimately important to consider the full spectrum of all P compounds, polyphosphate (PolyP) is an overlooked but significant mediator of global P cycling. Based on a published large-scope survey among 22 European lakes differing in trophic status, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and morphology, NMR analysis showed PolyP/TP ratios in surface sediments varied from 1.5 to 11.4%. In all cases where PolyP was detected, it was regarded to be biotically generated. The settlement of PolyP-containing microorganisms onto sediments could also serve as an input for sediment PolyP. In the summer of 2019, we documented PolyP in sediments of Oneida Lake using NMR, polyP staining, single cell Raman microspectroscopy. Work continued on cores taken in 2020, and results are being analyzed in Dr. Gu’s lab on campus.  However 2020 activities were limited by covid-19.  This work continued in 2021.