Matching Items (9)

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How does nutrient limitation affect expression of assimilatory genes within a photosynthetic microbial mat community in Yellowstone National Park?

Description

Microbial mat communities that inhabit hot springs in Yellowstone National Park have been studied for their biodiversity, energetics and evolutionary history, yet little is know about how these communities cope

Microbial mat communities that inhabit hot springs in Yellowstone National Park have been studied for their biodiversity, energetics and evolutionary history, yet little is know about how these communities cope with nutrient limitation. In the present study the changes in assimilatory gene expression levels for nitrogen (nrgA), phosphorus (phoA), and iron (yusV) were measured under various nutrient enrichment experiments. While results for nrgA and phoA were inconclusive, results for yusV showed an increase in expression with the addition of N and Fe. This is the first data that shows the impact of nutrients on siderophore uptake regulation in hot spring microbes.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Integrating metagenomics and geochemistry: functional evolution and taxonomic classification of hot spring communities

Description

The taxonomic and metabolic profile of the microbial community inhabiting a natural system is largely determined by the physical and geochemical properties of the system. However, the influences of parameters

The taxonomic and metabolic profile of the microbial community inhabiting a natural system is largely determined by the physical and geochemical properties of the system. However, the influences of parameters beyond temperature, pH and salinity have been poorly analyzed with few studies incorporating the comprehensive suite of physical and geochemical measurements required to fully investigate the complex interactions known to exist between biology and the environment. Further, the techniques used to classify the taxonomic and functional composition of a microbial community are fragmented and unwieldy, resulting in unnecessarily complex and often non-consilient results.

This dissertation integrates environmental metagenomes with extensive geochemical metadata for the development and application of multidimensional biogeochemical metrics. Analysis techniques including a Markov cluster-based evolutionary distance between whole communities, oligonucleotide signature-based taxonomic binning and principal component analysis of geochemical parameters allow for the determination of correlations between microbial community dynamics and environmental parameters. Together, these techniques allow for the taxonomic classification and functional analysis of the evolution of hot spring communities. Further, these techniques provide insight into specific geochemistry-biology interactions which enable targeted analyses of community taxonomic and functional diversity. Finally, analysis of synonymous substitution rates among physically separated microbial communities provides insights into microbial dispersion patterns and the roles of environmental geochemistry and community metabolism on DNA transfer among hot spring communities.

The data presented here confirms temperature and pH as the primary factors shaping the evolutionary trajectories of microbial communities. However, the integration of extensive geochemical metadata reveals new links between geochemical parameters and the distribution and functional diversification of communities. Further, an overall geochemical gradient (from multivariate analyses) between natural systems provides one of the most complete predictions of microbial community functional composition and inter-community DNA transfer rates. Finally, the taxonomic classification and clustering techniques developed within this dissertation will facilitate future genomic and metagenomic studies through enhanced community profiling obtainable via Markov clustering, longer oligonucleotide signatures and insight into PCR primer biases.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Microbiome after bariatric surgery and microbial insights into surgical weight loss

Description

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic accompanied by multiple comorbidities. Bariatric surgery is currently the most efficient treatment for morbid obesity and its comorbidities. The etiology of obesity is

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic accompanied by multiple comorbidities. Bariatric surgery is currently the most efficient treatment for morbid obesity and its comorbidities. The etiology of obesity is unknown, although genetic, environmental, and most recently, microbiome elements have been recognized as contributors to this rising epidemic. The role of the gut microbiome in weight-loss or weight-gain warrants investigation, and bariatric surgery provides a good model to study influences of the microbiome on host metabolism. The underlying goals of my research were to analyze (i) the factors that change the microbiome after bariatric surgery, (ii) the effects of different types of bariatric surgeries on the gut microbiome and metabolism, (iii) the role of the microbiome on the success of bariatric surgery, and (iv) temporal and spatial changes of the microbiome after bariatric surgery.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) rearranges the gastrointestinal tract and reduces gastric acid secretions. Therefore, pH could be one of the factors that change microbiome after RYGB. Using mixed-cultures and co-cultures of species enriched after RYGB, I showed that as small as 0.5 units higher gut pH can aid in the survival of acid-sensitive microorganisms after RYGB and alter gut microbiome function towards the production of weight loss-associated metabolites. By comparing microbiome after two different bariatric surgeries, RYGB and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), I revealed that gut microbiome structure and metabolism after RYGB are remarkably different than LAGB, and LAGB change microbiome minimally. Given the distinct RYGB alterations to the microbiome, I examined the contribution of the microbiome to weight loss. Analyses revealed that Fusobacterium might lessen the success of RYGB by producing putrescine, which may enhance weight-gain and could serve as biomarker for unsuccessful RYGB.

Finally, I showed that RYGB alters the luminal and the mucosal microbiome. Changes in gut microbial metabolic products occur in the short-term and persist over the long-term. Overall, the work in this dissertation provides insight into how the gut microbiome structure and function is altered after bariatric surgery, and how these changes potentially affect the host metabolism. These findings will be helpful in subsequent development of microbiome-based therapeutics to treat obesity.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Niche differentiation of ammonia-oxidizing microbial communities in arid land soils

Description

Human activity has increased loading of reactive nitrogen (N) in the environment, with important and often deleterious impacts on biodiversity, climate, and human health. Since the fate of N in

Human activity has increased loading of reactive nitrogen (N) in the environment, with important and often deleterious impacts on biodiversity, climate, and human health. Since the fate of N in the ecosystem is mainly controlled by microorganisms, understanding the factors that shape microbial communities becomes relevant and urgent. In arid land soils, these microbial communities and factors are not well understood. I aimed to study the role of N cycling microbes, such as the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), the recently discovered ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), and various fungal groups, in soils of arid lands. I also tested if niche differentiation among microbial populations is a driver of differential biogeochemical outcomes. I found that N cycling microbial communities in arid lands are structured by environmental factors to a stronger degree than what is generally observed in mesic systems. For example, in biological soil crusts, temperature selected for AOA in warmer deserts and for AOB in colder deserts. Land-use change also affects niche differentiation, with fungi being the major agents of N2O production in natural arid lands, whereas emissions could be attributed to bacteria in mesic urban lawns. By contrast, NO3- production in the native desert and managed soils was mainly controlled by autotrophic microbes (i.e., AOB and AOA) rather than by heterotrophic fungi. I could also determine that AOA surprisingly responded positively to inorganic N availability in both short (one month) and long-term (seven years) experimental manipulations in an arid land soil, while environmental N enrichment in other ecosystem types is known to favor AOB over AOA. This work improves our predictions of ecosystem response to anthropogenic N increase and shows that paradigms derived from mesic systems are not always applicable to arid lands. My dissertation also highlights the unique ecology of ammonia oxidizers and draws attention to the importance of N cycling in desert soils.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Building microbial communities and managing fermentation in microbial electrolysis cells

Description

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) offer an alternative to methane production in anaerobic water treatment and the recapture of energy in waste waters. MXCs use anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to

Microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) offer an alternative to methane production in anaerobic water treatment and the recapture of energy in waste waters. MXCs use anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to oxidize organic compounds and generate electrical current. In both anaerobic digestion and MXCs, an anaerobic food web connects the metabolisms of different microorganisms, using hydrolysis, fermentation and either methanogenesis or anode respiration to break down organic compounds, convert them to acetate and hydrogen, and then convert those intermediates into either methane or current. In this dissertation, understanding and managing the interactions among fermenters, methanogens, and ARB were critical to making developments in MXCs. Deep sequencing technologies were used in order to identify key community members, understand their role in the community, and identify selective pressures that drove the structure of microbial communities. This work goes from developing ARB communities by finding and using the best partners to managing ARB communities with undesirable partners. First, the foundation of MXCs, namely the ARB they rely on, was expanded by identifying novel ARB, the genus Geoalkalibacter, and demonstrating the presence of ARB in 7 out of 13 different environmental samples. Second, a new microbial community which converted butyrate to electricity at ~70% Coulombic efficiency was assembled and demonstrated that mixed communities can be used to assemble efficient ARB communities. Third, varying the concentrations of sugars and ethanol fed to methanogenic communities showed how increasing ED concentration drove decreases in methane production and increases in both fatty acids and the propionate producing genera Bacteroides and Clostridium. Finally, methanogenic batch cultures, fed glucose and sucrose, and exposed to 0.15 – 6 g N-NH4+ L-1 showed that increased NH4+ inhibited methane production, drove fatty acid and lactate production, and enriched Lactobacillales (up to 40% abundance) above 4 g N-NH4+ L-1. Further, 4 g N-NH4+ L-1 improved Coulombic efficiencies in MXCs fed with glucose and sucrose, and showed that MXC communities, especially the biofilm, are more resilient to high NH4+ than comparable methanogenic communities. These developments offer new opportunities for MXC applications, guidance for efficient operation of MXCs, and insights into fermentative microbial communities.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Theoretical and empirical investigations of ecosystem development in boreal wetlands

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Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad

Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad support in the literature. I used boreal wetland soils as a study system to test a notable goal oriented principle: The Maximum Power Principle (MPP). The MPP posits that ecosystems, and in fact all energy systems, develop to maximize power production or the rate of energy production. I conducted theoretical and empirical investigations to test the MPP in northern wetlands.

Permafrost degradation is leading to rapid wetland formation in northern peatland ecosystems, altering the role of these ecosystems in the global carbon cycle. I reviewed the literature on the history of the MPP theory, including tracing its origins to The Second Law of Thermodynamics. To empirically test the MPP, I collected soils along a gradient of ecosystem development and: 1) quantified the rate of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production--literally cellular energy--to test the MPP; 2) quantified greenhouse gas production (CO2, CH4, and N2O) and microbial genes that produce enzymes catalyzing greenhouse gas production, and; 3) sequenced the 16s rRNA gene from soil microbes to investigate microbial community composition across the chronosequence of wetland development. My results suggested that the MPP and other related theoretical constructs have strong potential to further inform our understanding of ecosystem development. Soil system power (ATP) decreased temporarily as the ecosystem reorganized after disturbance to rates of power production that approached pre-disturbance levels. Rates of CH4 and N2O production were higher at the newly formed bog and microbial genes involved with greenhouse gas production were strongly related to the amount of greenhouse gas produced. DNA sequencing results showed that across the chronosequence of development, the two relatively mature ecosystems--the peatland forest ecosystem prior to permafrost degradation and the oldest bog--were more similar to one another than to the intermediate, less mature bog. Collectively, my results suggest that ecosystem age, rather than ecosystem state, was a more important driver for ecosystem structure and function.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Characterization of structure and function of microbial communities in Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 photobioreactors

Description

Creating sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel resources is one of the greatest

challenges facing mankind. Solar energy provides an excellent option to alleviate modern dependence on fossil fuels. However, efficient methods

Creating sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel resources is one of the greatest

challenges facing mankind. Solar energy provides an excellent option to alleviate modern dependence on fossil fuels. However, efficient methods to harness solar energy are still largely lacking. Biomass from photosynthetic organisms can be used as feedstock to produce traditional fuels, but must be produced in great quantities in order to meet the demands of growing populations. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic photosynthetic microorganisms that can produce biomass on large scales using only sunlight, carbon dioxide, water, and small amounts of nutrients. Thus, Cyanobacteria are a viable option for sustainable production of biofuel feedstock material. Photobioreactors (PBRs) offer a high degree of control over the temperature, aeration, and mixing of cyanobacterial cultures, but cannot be kept sterile due to the scales necessary to meet domestic and global energy demands, meaning that heterotrophic bacteria can grow in PBRs by oxidizing the organic material produced and excreted by the Cyanobacteria. These heterotrophic bacteria can positively or negatively impact the performance of the PBR through their interactions with the Cyanobacteria. This work explores the microbial ecology in PBR cultures of the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 (Synechocystis) using microbiological, molecular, chemical, and engineering techniques. I first show that diverse phylotypes of heterotrophic bacteria can associate with Synechocystis-based PBRs and that excluding them may be impossible under typical PBR operating conditions. Then, I demonstrate that high-throughput sequencing can reliably elucidate the structure of PBR microbial communities without the need for pretreatment to remove Synechocystis 16S rRNA genes, despite the high degree of polyploidy found in Synechocystis. Next, I establish that the structure of PBR microbial communities is strongly influenced by the microbial community of the inoculum culture. Finally, I show that maintaining available phosphorus in the culture medium promotes the production and enrichment of Synechocystis biomass in PBRs by reducing the amount of soluble substrates available to heterotrophic bacteria. This work presents the first analysis of the structure and function of microbial communities associated with Synechocystis-based PBRs.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Management of microbial communities to improve growth of chloroethene-respiring Dehalococcoides

Description

Reductive dechlorination by members of the bacterial genus Dehalococcoides is a common and cost-effective avenue for in situ bioremediation of sites contaminated with the chlorinated solvents, trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethene

Reductive dechlorination by members of the bacterial genus Dehalococcoides is a common and cost-effective avenue for in situ bioremediation of sites contaminated with the chlorinated solvents, trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethene (PCE). The overarching goal of my research was to address some of the challenges associated with bioremediation timeframes by improving the rates of reductive dechlorination and the growth of Dehalococcoides in mixed communities. Biostimulation of contaminated sites or microcosms with electron donor fails to consistently promote dechlorination of PCE/TCE beyond cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), even when the presence of Dehalococcoides is confirmed. Supported by data from microcosm experiments, I showed that the stalling at cis-DCE is due a H2 competition in which components of the soil or sediment serve as electron acceptors for competing microorganisms. However, once competition was minimized by providing selective enrichment techniques, I illustrated how to obtain both fast rates and high-density Dehalococcoides using three distinct enrichment cultures. Having achieved a heightened awareness of the fierce competition for electron donor, I then identified bicarbonate (HCO3-) as a potential H2 sink for reductive dechlorination. HCO3- is the natural buffer in groundwater but also the electron acceptor for hydrogenotrophic methanogens and homoacetogens, two microbial groups commonly encountered with Dehalococcoides. By testing a range of concentrations in batch experiments, I showed that methanogens are favored at low HCO3 and homoacetogens at high HCO3-. The high HCO3- concentrations increased the H2 demand which negatively affected the rates and extent of dechlorination. By applying the gained knowledge on microbial community management, I ran the first successful continuous stirred-tank reactor (CSTR) at a 3-d hydraulic retention time for cultivation of dechlorinating cultures. I demonstrated that using carefully selected conditions in a CSTR, cultivation of Dehalococcoides at short retention times is feasible, resulting in robust cultures capable of fast dechlorination. Lastly, I provide a systematic insight into the effect of high ammonia on communities involved in dechlorination of chloroethenes. This work documents the potential use of landfill leachate as a substrate for dechlorination and an increased tolerance of Dehalococcoides to high ammonia concentrations (2 g L-1 NH4+-N) without loss of the ability to dechlorinate TCE to ethene.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Technical, economical and social aspects of moving treatability studies for in situ bioremediation of contaminated aquifers from the laboratory to the field

Description

This dissertation explores the use of bench-scale batch microcosms in remedial design of contaminated aquifers, presents an alternative methodology for conducting such treatability studies, and - from technical, economical, and

This dissertation explores the use of bench-scale batch microcosms in remedial design of contaminated aquifers, presents an alternative methodology for conducting such treatability studies, and - from technical, economical, and social perspectives - examines real-world application of this new technology. In situ bioremediation (ISB) is an effective remedial approach for many contaminated groundwater sites. However, site-specific variability necessitates the performance of small-scale treatability studies prior to full-scale implementation. The most common methodology is the batch microcosm, whose potential limitations and suitable technical alternatives are explored in this thesis. In a critical literature review, I discuss how continuous-flow conditions stimulate microbial attachment and biofilm formation, and identify unique microbiological phenomena largely absent in batch bottles, yet potentially relevant to contaminant fate. Following up on this theoretical evaluation, I experimentally produce pyrosequencing data and perform beta diversity analysis to demonstrate that batch and continuous-flow (column) microcosms foster distinctly different microbial communities. Next, I introduce the In Situ Microcosm Array (ISMA), which took approximately two years to design, develop, build and iteratively improve. The ISMA can be deployed down-hole in groundwater monitoring wells of contaminated aquifers for the purpose of autonomously conducting multiple parallel continuous-flow treatability experiments. The ISMA stores all sample generated in the course of each experiment, thereby preventing the release of chemicals into the environment. Detailed results are presented from an ISMA demonstration evaluating ISB for the treatment of hexavalent chromium and trichloroethene. In a technical and economical comparison to batch microcosms, I demonstrate the ISMA is both effective in informing remedial design decisions and cost-competitive. Finally, I report on a participatory technology assessment (pTA) workshop attended by diverse stakeholders of the Phoenix 52nd Street Superfund Site evaluating the ISMA's ability for addressing a real-world problem. In addition to receiving valuable feedback on perceived ISMA limitations, I conclude from the workshop that pTA can facilitate mutual learning even among entrenched stakeholders. In summary, my doctoral research (i) pinpointed limitations of current remedial design approaches, (ii) produced a novel alternative approach, and (iii) demonstrated the technical, economical and social value of this novel remedial design tool, i.e., the In Situ Microcosm Array technology.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013