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Student Poster Session

Student Poster Abstracts

Thank you to our graduate and undergraduate students from Augustana College, Illinois State University, and Western Illinois University for sharing their research with us this year. Here are the abstracts to their projects.

Aquatic Fungi Associated with a Low Order Stream in West Central Illinois

Terri Tobias, Andrea Porras-Alfaro - Western Illinois University

Anthropogenic impacts are creating tremendous pressure on global aquatic ecosystems. Rivers and streams account for only 1% of the earth’s freshwater, but they are the most important source of water for human use.

The study of microbial ecology in freshwater river ecosystems has become increasingly important. Microbes play a pivotal role in the uptake, storage, and cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in aquatic ecosystems and are an important component in water purification. Fungal traps containing apples, pears, and cherries were placed in a low order stream with a mixed urban and agriculture landscape in Macomb, Illinois. Dilutions of the fruit (10-1-10-5) were plated on four types of media (MEA, EYSA, YG, SDA) supplemented with antibiotics, and incubated at 25° C for 30 days. Pure cultures were obtained and DNA was extracted and amplified using ITS rRNA primers. Two hundred and thirty fungal isolates were cultured and preliminary results indicate eight classes of fungi and 11 orders. Saccharomycetes (70%) was the most frequent fungal class represented in the culture collection with seven genera (Meyerozyma, Candida, Geotrichum, Pichia, Kazachstania, Cyberlindnera, and Cystofilobasidium), followed by Sordariomycetes (22%) with nine genera (Purpureocillium, Fusarium, Fusicolla, Trichoderma, Colletotrichum, Simplicillium, Clonostachys, Striaticonidium, and Plectosphaerella). Seven genera of yeasts were isolated from the freshwater stream; the abundance of yeasts within aquatic systems could be a potential predictor of water quality. In addition, understanding microbial community variation within local environments with varying conditions may provide some insight into microbial diversity and function.

Prevalence of the Invasive Mosquito Aedes japonicus in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed

Jason Hunt, Michele Rehbein, Rhiannon Pyle, Sophia Caban, R Philip Scheibel, Catherine Miller-Hunt, Roger Viadero - Western Illinois University

The spread of invasive mosquito species as potential vectors for exotic and endemic diseases poses significant challenges to public health agencies worldwide. In particular, the genus Aedes possesses a number of species capable of transmitting lethal arboviruses. In Illinois, Ae. triseriatus is the primary vector for La Crosse encephalitis virus (LACV), the leading cause of neuroinvasive arboviral infections in children. The majority of LACV cases in Illinois are centered in Peoria, Woodford and Tazewell counties, with case distribution extending into the western Illinois counties of Fulton, McDonough, and Hancock. In collaboration with state and local health departments, we sought to assess the abundance and distribution of potential Aedes arboviral vectors. From June to September of 2014, 2015, and again in 2016, mosquitoes were collected using gravid traps and Aedes mosquitos were identified to species level. Ae. japonicus, a dangerous invasive species from East Asia, was collected in multiple western Illinois locations during this study. We found Ae. japonicus for the first time in Fulton and Schuyler counties, and confirmed active populations in Cass and McDonough counties.
Preliminary results from 2016 surveillance indicate an increase in the percentage of Aedes species collected at most of the locations examined in 2014 and 2015. Ae. japonicus has been found to possess LACV RNA and virus in Appalachians. Ae. japonicus has also been shown to be a competent vector for St. Louis encephalitis virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Rift Valley fever virus, and West Nile Virus. Discovery of this species suggests the potential for arboviral transmission to humans in western Illinois. As Peoria, IL is located within the analyzed watershed, river corridors near Peoria may play a role in the active expansion of Ae. japonicus. This is likely due to the extensive use of rock pools as oviposition sites. Further studies will determine arboviral disease carriage status of the collected Ae.
japonicus mosquito species.

Influence of Cover Cropping on Nutrient Loading From a Tile-Drained Agricultural Watershed

Benjamin G. Bruening, Catherine M. O'Reilly, Victoria E. Heath, Shalamar D. Armstrong, William L. Perry - Illinois State University

Nutrient pollution originating from agricultural regions in the Midwest leads to pollution of drinking water sources as well as large hypoxic zones in the Gulf of Mexico. One method shown to reduce this pollution is the planting of cover crops, which have been shown to significantly reduce nitrate and phosphorous exported from agricultural fields, even in tile-drained watersheds that are resistant to other nutrient management methods such as riparian zones. However, most cover crop studies take place in small agricultural study plots, which may display different nutrient loading responses to cover cropping than commercial agricultural fields, which are much larger. In this study, we use high resolution nutrient monitoring methods to determine the effectiveness of cover cropping on a watershed scale in reducing nutrient loading. We compare nitrate and phosphorous loading from two agricultural watersheds, one of which is 1000 acres and planted with cover crops, while the other is 700 acres with no cover crops planted. To obtain high-resolution loading data, we use automated discharge measurement and automated water sampling at both watersheds. By comparing loading between the treated and untreated watersheds, we can determine whether cover cropping reduces nutrient loading. To supplement our loading data, we also collected shallow soil samples and biomass measurements to measure cover crop growth and nitrogen uptake. Preliminary results indicate that nutrient export is highly correlated with storm events. For example, in an early May storm event where 2.63 inches of rain fell in 3 days, total phosphorous loading at our untreated cropped watershed increased from a pre-storm level of .014 kg day-1 on May 7th to 13.61 kg day-1 on May 10th. We also found that rye cover crops reduced the amount of nitrate present in shallow soil samples in spring while increasing ammonium concentrations. This may indicate cover crops have the potential to reduce problematic nutrient runoff from Midwestern agricultural areas even when planted over large agricultural watersheds, but further data is needed to solidify our results.

Dynamics of Nitrate, Phosphorus, and Suspended Sediment Transport in Two Agricultural Streams in Central Illinois

Luke Lampo - Illinois State University

Nutrients such as nitrate and phosphorus are necessary for life, but excessive amounts can be detrimental. Large amounts of nutrients entering bodies of water can lead to hypoxic zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico. Nutrients are also problematic in drinking water reservoirs, as high concentrations of nitrate in drinking water can cause health conditions such as blue baby syndrome and high phosphorus concentrations can lead to algal blooms. High nutrient concentrations are a recurring problem in the drinking water reservoirs for the City of Bloomington, Illinois where water is drawn from two reservoirs – Evergreen Lake and Lake Bloomington. The primary source for these nutrients is from agriculture, which dominates the land use in the area. To better understand the dynamics of nitrate, phosphorus, and suspended sediment being transported into these reservoirs, water samples are collected at the major tributary for each reservoir - Six Mile Creek for Evergreen Lake and Money Creek for Lake Bloomington. SedEvent, an autosampler system which uses a turbidity threshold sampling method to determine when a rain event is occurring, is used to collect water samples at both tributaries. Water samples are analyzed for nitrate and total phosphorus concentrations using flow injection analysis (FIA). Suspended sediment concentrations are also being examined, as it can be an indicator of pollutants and a means of nutrient transport. There are high nutrient and suspended sediment concentrations and loads in both creeks during or just after rain events, when discharge is high. Nitrate concentrations range from 4.55 to 13.3 ppm, total phosphorus concentrations range from 11.9 to 460 ppb, and total suspended sediment concentrations range from 8 to 4000 ppm. This study will provide the City of Bloomington with information about how much, and when the most nu¬trients are entering their drinking water reservoirs and allow them to take the appropriate steps to improve their water management.

Wading Through the Water: Preliminary Results of Water Quality Testing at Nahant Marsh

Marina Deligiannis - Augustana College

Water quality plays an important role when it comes to maintaining a healthy marsh and protecting biodiversity. Marshes act as buffers for the ecosystem in which they are located by filtering different pollutants that enter the marsh from neighboring land. My research focuses on Nahant Marsh in Davenport Iowa. Nahant watershed is shared between residential, agricultural and industrial land therefore collecting water runoff from all of these different environments. For my methodology I tested four main points at Nahant, levels of nitrate, chloride, calcium, dissolved oxygen, phosphates, and pH. On testing days which occurred once a week for 6 straight weeks during the months of June and July, I took note of the time of day, water temperature, outside temperature, surrounding land use, any noticeable smells coming from the marsh and how much rainfall occurred over the preceding 24 hours. The four testing sites that I studied were where (1) the water enters the marsh, (2,3) through the marsh and then (4) where Nahant releases into the Mississippi River. These four points allowed me to observe any trends showing the improvement of water quality as it traveled through the marsh. Although I still have more research to conduct, there is a trend that the marsh is in fact doing its job as a buffer for different substances that enter the marsh.

One way that this trend is represented is by looking at the levels of dissolved oxygen and nitrate and how the levels of each lessen as we test through the four sites. I plan on testing the water quality through the fall and early winter months to collect a larger data set. I also am looking into the land use history of Nahant to provide a better understanding of how land use and the water quality of Nahant are related.

West Nile Virius Surveillance in Western Illinois

Michele Rehbein, Jason Hunt, Rhiannon Pyle, Catherine Miller-Hunt - Western Illinois University

Arboviral diseases, including West Nile virus (WNV), are a continued and growing public health concern affecting both humans and animals in urban and rural locations. In rural settings, information on the distribution of the vector that transmits WNV is lacking. Rural areas frequently face obstacles because of poor socioeconomic conditions, being medically underserved and containing growing elderly and minority populations. These factors suggest that rural residents may represent a population that is especially vulnerable to WNV. To determine the public health risk posed by potentially infected mosquitoes in non-urban areas, this study monitored mosquitoes throughout four rural western Illinois counties in collaboration with local county health departments. The field sites were located within McDonough, Cass, Fulton, and Schuyler counties. Gravid traps were used to collect adult mosquitoes from 6/19/15 to 10/02/15. Captured female Culex mosquitoes were analyzed by using RAMP® WNV Test. RAMP uses cartridges with WNV specific antibodies embedded on them to detect viral protein which may be present within a mosquito sample. If present, the viral proteins will attach to the antibodies and cause a fluorescent reaction which can be quantified and displayed by a number of RAMP units on the machine. A total of 9,131 Culex mosquitoes were collected for this study. 17 samples from McDonough County, 6 samples from Cass County, 3 samples from Fulton County, and 5 samples from Schuyler County were found to be positive for WNV.
Other mosquito species also captured from all four counties in the 2015 season have been identified as invasive mosquito species Aedes japonicus and two native species Ae. triseriatus and Ae. trivittatus. In 2014, these Aedes species had never before been known to inhabit Fulton County, and represented a new distribution record in this county. In 2015, this research was able to expand the distribution records even more. Our goal is to continue to assist local rural county health departments to trap and test both Culex and Aedes mosquitoes to better understand the distribution of vector-borne diseases and vectors in western Illinois.