HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Jose Lopez, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Song Gao, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Donald McCorquodale, Ph.D.


Port Everglades Inlet is one of the busiest ports in the country and is a point source of pollution to surrounding beaches and offshore corals from heavy boat traffic and urban runoff. Understanding fluctuations of bacterioplankton communities in major port inlets is important due to their impacts on surrounding marine environments. To understand annual microbial fluctuations, the 16s rRNA V4 hypervariable region was sequenced using Illumina high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. Surface samples were taken weekly for one year to generate baseline fluctuations in the microbial community. Total reads of 1.4 million were generated with a final count of 16,384 Operational Taxonomic Units. The dominant phyla were Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria. Pathogenic genera were detected at low abundances during peak shipping and tourist months (November –April). Results indicate significant differences in alpha diversity when comparing microbial communities in August with other times. This was likely caused by low community richness and abundance, and below-average August rainfall levels. Differences in beta diversity were significant when comparing monthly and seasonal changes. Rainfall, temperature, and nutrient trends may have affected microbial composition, specifically during the dry season that was warmer and wetter than historical averages for 2013-2014. Increased nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations were observed in the dry season months of October, December, and January potentially creating optimal bacterial growth conditions. These results can be compared with historical and future data regarding inlet microbial communities to determine underlying baselines of bacterioplankton communities and monitor the health of marine and recreational environments they impact. This study represents the first to characterize at this scale and use Illumina MiSeq technology to analyze water samples from Port Everglades.

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