FALL 2017

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In September of 2017, twelve undergraduate students enrolled in the Honors (HONR) 291 course “Extreme Microbiology of Yellowstone” joined the MSU Keck team on a week-long sampling trip in Yellowstone National Park. HONR 291 students are working in research teams to try and cultivate novel thermoalkaliphilic bacteria and archaea from some of Yellowstone’s high pH hot springs.Students collected sediment slurry and microbial mat material from promising hot spring locations, and brought them back to MSU for cultivation attempts. During HONR 291 lab sessions, student research teams prepared, inoculated, incubated, and transferred microbial enrichment cultures using methodological approaches developed by the research teams. Students are currently analyzing their YNP microbial enrichments to determine what organisms were successfully cultivation, and whether any are promising novel thermoalkaliphiles the Keck research team may wish to characterize in more detail.





keck team


In the summer of 2017, enrichment work targeting the growth of uncultivated thermoalkaliphilic Bacteria and Archaea yielded several promising cultures. Enriched populations were visualized using Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (FISH), detecting the possible presence of several novel bacterial populations. These enrichments are currently being sequenced to identify specific species and their relative abundance. Progress has also been made on extracting proteins and metabolites from thermoalkaline YNP hot springs. This work will provide important insights into proteins that allow thermoalkaliphilic organisms to grow and survive under such extreme conditions. Finally, metagenomic datasets generated from several high pH hot springs are currently being assembled, and will help in identifying potential metabolic pathways employed by thermoalkaline microbes, thus allowing for genomics-enabled cultivation efforts.

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             Sampling trip in Yellowstone