Isolating Hawaii's freshwater microalgae

Kamehameha High School Kapalama, Honors Science Research, 2012-2013

Pathogens are quickly gaining multiple resistances to antibiotics, creating a need for new bacterial treatments. Hawaiians have known streams and other water sources to have healing properties, "ka wai ola". Microalgae are microscopic photosynthetic organisms known for biofuels, but not studied in depth for frequencies or for antibiotic properties in Hawaii. To isolate microalgae from freshwater environments, Bold’s Basal Media was used to create agar plates for isolation of freshwater microalgae in 10 locations around O‘ahu. Seven algal species and one fungus were isolated among many bacterial colonies. The number and types of isolated colonies was compared. Differences in algae concentration suggest that grow better in lower flow rates compared to higher flow rates. High concentrations of microalgae were found at Kunawai spring, likely due to high amounts of sunlight and low water flow. Low concentrations of Microalgae were found in places with shallow water and the location with the most diversity in microalgae species was in a Taro Patch. In areas where high microalgae concentrations occurred, there were smaller amounts of bacteria, suggesting that some microalgae may contain antibiotic properties. The new microalgae strains that were isolated can also be used to create biofuels in a society where there is a need to decrease fossil fuel dependence.