ProjectComparative paleogenetics of preindustrial and contemporary sediments from Canadian lakes
Canada stewards a substantial number of Earth's lakes, which are integral to environmental health and vulnerable to a host of anthropogenic threats. To assess how human stressors have modified Canada's lakes from their preindustrial conditions, this project aims to reconstruct the past microbial communities of lakes and compare these with their contemporary assemblages. Using the new and upcoming paleogenetics approach, DNA preserved in lake sediments is recovered to reconstruct whole ecological communities with high taxonomic resolution. The DNA extracted from sediment cores collected by the LakePulse Network from lakes across Canada is sequenced and analyzed to evaluate how lake microbial communities have changed in response to human impact. This study represents the first ever attempt to implement the paleogenetics approach to reconstruct paleocommunities at the landscape scale and holds the potential to discover DNA-based indicators of lake health. This research highlights Canada's role as guardian of inland waters and the imperative to protect this precious resource.