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   Click here to view a slide show of GSL microbes.      View the microbe
     slide show.

   Jason talks about how his research at Westminster College has a direct correlation with the work he hopes to perform in the future.      Jason discusses
     research and his


GSL Microbe Research
A Westminster student collects a sample from the GSL.

Dr. Bonnie Baxter: My students and I are interested in Great Salt Lake because it yields some very intriguing microorganisms. Halophilic (salt-tolerant) Archaea are members of a group of Extremeophiles: Microorganisms that live in extreme conditions. more>>

Interdisciplinary Approach   Biology professor Bonnie Baxter says that GSL research brings scientists from several disciplines together, benefitting students and science.
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GSL studies

A Westminster student conducting an experiment with ultraviolet light.       Dr. Baxter and a sample of pink microbes from the GSL.       Pink microbes in the GSL.

The North Arm of Great Salt Lake can contain 30% salt, and in this environment, most life is excluded. I study DNA repair and photoprotection, and it turns out, these Halophiles are exciting models for these questions.

The other extreme condition of the lake is sunlight, and the excess Ultraviolet (UV) exposure has the potential to introduce a high level of DNA damage. My group is actively investigating pigmented proteins that may block some of this damage. We are also looking at the ability of Halophiles to repair damage that they incur from UV light. The pigments, including Bacteriorhodopsin and Carotenoids, result in a beautiful rosy hue seen in the North Arm.

In addition, I am currently involved with a national "Great Salt Lake Consortium" team, and all together we are surveying the microbial diversity of the lake. Our plan is to use non-cultivation techniques to obtain genomic information about the lake's tiniest inhabitants. The entire ecology of the lake is dependent on this rich community of microorganisms.

GSL factoid:

The GSL is a stopping place for thousands of birds migrating between Canada and South America.

another fact?