• Sampling of local lakes to assess Paramecium diversity and distribution

      Rajpura, Isma (2021-05)
      Paramecia species are fairly ubiquitous in freshwater bodies. It has been found in our past research that the distribution of Paramecia in small ponds in the Ulster County region is diverse and varies depending on the biogeochemical qualities of the water. To expand on this research, the distribution of Paramecia in larger bodies of water throughout New York State was determined through sampling and genotyping. Water samples were collected from six larger lakes throughout the state. These samples were scanned for Paramecia cells, and single-cell lines were established from these cells. Cells were cultured in wheatgrass medium. Genomic DNA was extracted from these cultures through use of Chelex preparations. The ITS gene was chosen as the gene to be amplified through polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The amplified gene was sequenced at a commercial lab. The sequences were then genotyped for Paramecia species (through NCBI Blast) and strain (through alignments with known sequences). We found that the diversity of Paramecia species and strains was greater in these larger lakes compared to the small ponds that were sampled previously. We also found several new strains that had not been found before. We suspect that these strains are endemic to the ponds that they were found in, due to their limited distribution. More extensive sampling and sequencing will be needed to determine the true distribution of these strains, as well of Paramecia overall.