Washington State Magazine

Spring 2005


Spring 2005

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In This Issue...

Features

Baseball is a Family :: We hear about his time with the Padres; about teammates Dave Winfield, Willie McCovey, and Tito Fuentes; how he'd faced Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench and Pete Rose and Joe Morgan; and how a tear of his rotator cuff had brought an end to his major league career.

The tie that binds :: No matter what you want to blame—predatory pricing, vertical integration, foreign competition, globalization, urban sprawl—the fact of the matter is, rural America is packing it in. At least the rural America of our memory or imagination.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Recipe: Stuffed Peppers from the Harrah Café }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Galleries: Washington Communities:Harrah and Pullman }

Where water meets desert :: Among locals, you occasionally hear the word "wasteland" used to describe sagebrush-studded lands that biologists prefer to call native shrub steppe. It's impossible to take such a harsh view when Robert Kent is your guide to the Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Gallery: Where water meets desert :: Photos of the Columbia Basin by Bill Wagner }

Panoramas

Departments

:: SEASONS|SPORTS: Meeting the challenge

Tracking

Cover: Former San Diego Padres pitcher Joe McIntosh '73 and his daughter Molly. Photograph by Robert Hubner.

Panoramas
Lake Coeur d'Alene is the focus of research by WSU faculty members Brent Peyton and Rajesh Sani.

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Lake Coeur d'Alene is the focus of research by WSU faculty members Brent Peyton and Rajesh Sani. Tim Steury

Tough Microbes

by | © Washington State University

A long history of mining in the Pacific Northwest has led to high levels of heavy metals in the sediments of some area lakes and rivers. However, microorganisms that live in these sediments, such as those found in the metal-contaminated Lake Coeur d'Alene, are capable of detoxifying their environment.

Brent Peyton and Rajesh Sani, researchers in the Center for Multiphase Environmental Research, at Washington State University, have received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Biocomplexity Program to characterize indigenous microorganisms in the sediments of Lake Coeur d'Alene and to analyze their role in the transport of metals through the environment.

The project focuses on characterizing microbial communities and developing a quantitative model to describe microbially driven reactions of the toxic metals lead, copper, and zinc. Peyton and Sani will use DNA extraction to characterize the microbial diversity of sediments collected from Lake Coeur d'Alene. In the laboratory, they will then measure changes in the microbial populations as they are exposed to higher metal stress.

Although there are typically millions of microorganisms and hundreds to thousands of different bacterial species in any given teaspoon of soil, the researchers will focus on a few dominant representatives. Peyton and Sani theorize that unique, metal-tolerant microorganisms may be dominant in the sediments, and that these microorganisms may influence the movement of the contaminants through the environment.

In collaboration with Timothy Ginn at the University of California-Davis and Nicholas Spycher at Lawrence Berkeley Labs, the researchers will also develop computer simulations to help explain the interaction of the bacteria with the metals in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin and to understand the conditions that would make for optimal clean-up.

Categories: Biological sciences | Tags: Lake Coeur d'Alene, Microbes

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