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Glycoside Hydrolase Gene Families Of Termite Hindgut Protists

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This project was completed to understand the evolution of the ability to digest wood in termite symbiotic protists. Lower termites harbor bacterial and protist symbionts which are essential to the

This project was completed to understand the evolution of the ability to digest wood in termite symbiotic protists. Lower termites harbor bacterial and protist symbionts which are essential to the termite ability to use wood as a nutritional source, producing glycoside hydrolases to break down the polysaccharides found in lignocellulose. Yet, only a few molecular studies have been done to confirm the protist species responsible for particular enzymes. By mining publicly available and newly generated genomic and transcriptomic data, including three transcriptomes from isolated protist cells, I identify over 200 new glycoside hydrolase sequences and compute the phylogenies of eight glycoside hydrolase families (GHFs) reported to be expressed by termite hindgut protists.

Of those families examined, the results are broadly consistent with Todaka et al. 2010, though none of the GHFs found were expressed in both termite-associated protist and non-termite-associated protist transcriptome data. This suggests that, rather than being inherited from their free-living protist ancestors, GHF genes were acquired by termite protists while within the termite gut, potentially via lateral gene transfer (LGT). For example one family, GHF10, implies a single acquisition of a bacterial xylanase into termite protists. The phylogenies from GHF5 and GHF11 each imply two distinct acquisitions in termite protist ancestors, each from bacteria. In eukaryote-dominated GHFs, GHF7 and GHF45, there are three apparent acquisitions by termite protists. Meanwhile, it appears prior reports of GHF62 in the termite gut may have been misidentified GHF43 sequences. GHF43 was the only GHF found to contain sequences from the protists not found in the termite gut. These findings generally all support the possibility termite-associated protists adapted to a lignocellulosic diet after colonization of the termite hindgut. Nonetheless, the poor resolution of GHF phylogeny and limited termite and protist sampling constrain interpretation.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Integrated -omics study of deep-sea microbial community and new Pseudoalteromonas isolate

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This thesis research focuses on phylogenetic and functional studies of microbial communities in deep-sea water, an untapped reservoir of high metabolic and genetic diversity of microorganisms. The presence of photosynthetic

This thesis research focuses on phylogenetic and functional studies of microbial communities in deep-sea water, an untapped reservoir of high metabolic and genetic diversity of microorganisms. The presence of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and diatoms is an interesting and unexpected discovery during a 16S ribosomal rRNA-based community structure analyses for microbial communities in the deep-sea water of the Pacific Ocean. Both RT-PCR and qRT-PCR approaches were employed to detect expression of the genes involved in photosynthesis of photoautotrophic organisms. Positive results were obtained and further proved the functional activity of these detected photosynthetic microbes in the deep-sea. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data was obtained, integrated, and analyzed from deep-sea microbial communities, including both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, from four different deep-sea sites ranging from the mesopelagic to the pelagic ocean. The RNA/DNA ratio was employed as an index to show the strength of metabolic activity of deep-sea microbes. These taxonomic and functional analyses of deep-sea microbial communities revealed a `defensive' life style of microbial communities living in the deep-sea water. Pseudoalteromonas sp.WG07 was subjected to transcriptomic analysis by application of RNA-Seq technology through the transcriptomic annotation using the genomes of closely related surface-water strain Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis TAC125 and sediment strain Pseudoalteromonas sp. SM9913. The transcriptome survey and related functional analysis of WG07 revealed unique features different from TAC125 and SM9913 and provided clues as to how it adapted to its environmental niche. Also, a comparative transcriptomic analysis of WG07 revealed transcriptome changes between its exponential and stationary growing phases.

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Date Created
  • 2013