Andrea Roebuck, MSc. Candidate
Andrea is currently concluding her thesis on abundance and activity of toluene degraders in the groundwater underlying a phytoremediation system. Andrea uses qPCR to quantify functional genes involved in the aerobic and anaerobic degradation of toluene by bacteria. Groundwater samples are obtained with both horizontal and vertical delineation across the seasons. We target DNA to confirm bacterial toluene-degraders are present in the system and to find zones in a contamination plume where aerobic or anaerobic degraders may dominate. Quantification of RNA allows detection of potential degradation activity and allows us to determine where in the plume we see the greatest potential degradation activity. Our qPCR data has given us insight into seasonal and spatial variations in toluene degrader abundance and potential activity both spatially and across seasons.