Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Biology



First Advisor

Alexandra Van Kley

Second Advisor

James Van Kley

Third Advisor

Kenneth Farrish

Fourth Advisor

Matthew Kwiatkowski


Lake Baikal is the oldest known lake and a unique ecosystem, home to several species of fresh water sponge. A disease outbreak affecting the dominant species, Lubormirskia baialensis, was recently reported. The cause of the disease has not been determined but one of the current hypothesis is that the increase in methane concentration is correlated to the disease outbreak. This pilot study characterized the microbiomes of sick and healthy sponges through the use of 16S rRNA sequencing. Sick sponge microbiomes shared a conserved group of taxa while the healthy sponge microbiomes had greater diversity. Indicator species analysis identified two significant taxa in the sick sponges that are acidophilic. There was also a decrease of methanotroph taxa in the sick sponge samples compared to the healthy sponge samples which suggested methane was not associated with the disease outbreak. However decreased pH may be a factor related to Red Sponge Disease.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



Tell us how this article helped you.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.