Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Donaldson, Janet R.

Committee Member

McNeal, Karen S.

Committee Member

Thornton, Justin A.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Estuaries are valuable economic resources to humans. However, changes in these ecosystems, such as alteration in nutrient availability, can impose eutrophic pressures. Traditionally, estuaries have been monitored through chemical analyses that measure factors such as sediment oxygen demand (SOD) and reduced forms of Fe(II), Mn(II), and H2S. These methods are time consuming and have been proven to be unreliable. This study was conducted to determine if using T-RFLP analysis could be used as a proxy for some of the current methods used to monitor eutrophication. Using SPSS to perform a principle component analysis, it was determined that connections can be made between the genetic fingerprints of microbial communities in estuaries and the biogeochemical markers that are currently used to monitor eutrophication. This method can potentially replace the current methods by allowing scientists to measure more sites rapidly and with reproducibility.