Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Chemistry

Major Professor

Christopher Baker

Committee Members

Bhavya Sharma, Sharani Roy, Charles Collins, Shawn Campagna

Abstract

Due to increased industrialization, the release of anthropogenic pollutants in the environment is increasing and the fate of these pollutants has become a global concern. Marine phytoplankton act as a considerable sink of many anthropogenic pollutants. However, chemical analyses of the biosequestration process often encounter challenges due to many simultaneously interacting chemical and biological parameters. This dissertation is motivated by understanding phytoplankton’s sequestration of anthropogenic pollutants by linking all the interactions between microalgae and their environment.The sequestration of greenhouse gas CO2 and its utilization for biomass production by marine microalgae was investigated by developing novel modeling methodologies with required microscopic spatial resolution. The validation experiments indicated that the model can accurately describe the chemically complex relation between atmospheric CO2 and resulting biomass. Moreover, few applications of the model were presented to predict the impact of future environmental changes on the ecosystem.In order to assess microalgae’s CO2 sequestration a straightforward indicator, intracellular carotene quantity, was proposed. To accomplish this, intracellular carotene was measured by a combination of fluorescence spectroscopy and flow cytometry. By relating cells’ internal response (carotenoid) to external chemical changes (atmospheric CO2), a slowdown in microalgae’s CO2 sequestration was indicated by an increase of intracellular carotene quantity.The last research topic was motivated by understanding the effect of two heavy metal pollutants (copper and nickel), on the uptake and biomass production by marine microalgae. The uptake of heavy metal by the contaminated cultures was quantified by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy. This investigation suggested that the uptake of heavy metals and algal growth was strongly influenced by heavy metal. Furthermore, contaminated cells suffered significant intracellular damage due to the presence of heavy metal.

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