The birth of a collaboration in riverine ecology

This week marked the first data collection fieldtrip in a collaborative project between myself and a colleague (Dr. Ian Drew) in geography and geology here at Manchester Metropolitan University. Together we are interested in the microbial ecology of an urban river system in Manchester (UK).

Coming from completely different scientific disciplines, we are each interested in different aspects of the project. While my focus is the diversity and activity of the microbes, Ian is concerned with how this relates to the ecosystem, particularly river restoration processes. It is clearly early days yet in the project, so exact details about our work will remain out of the public domain for the present. We anticipate that our research, the objectives of which will answer or at least attempt to answer, some pertinent questions regarding riverine microbial communities, will be of interest to scientists in diverse disciplines.

Some of our field kit

Our field trip also provided an opportunity for my current Nuffield Foundation student Natasha, who is on a four-week placement this August, to participate in a newly-developed research project and delve right in at the first key milestone. Natasha, over the course of the next three weeks, will perform various analyses on samples we collected earlier this week, focusing on bacteria which she can culture and characterise in the laboratory. Although without previous experience of microbiology, Natasha has proven to be a fast learner. Her results will provide the foundation for Environmental Microbiology undergraduate project students later this year.

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