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Activating Genes to Produce Natural Products in Underexplored Bacteria

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

One of the major threats that society faces today is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), which the World Health Organization cites as a top 10 global public health threat. Due to this growing issue, the search for novel antimicrobials that could potentially combat this threat is imperative. Many bacteria have been proven to produce useful metabolites referred to as natural products (NPs), with a portion of these NPs being antibiotics. One understudied subset of bacteria, called methanotrophs, are an untapped resource for potential antimicrobials. Methanotrophs use methane as their primary carbon and energy source and are rarely studied because they are difficult to culture in a lab setting. Methanotrophs, like many bacteria, use quorum sensing (QS), which is a molecular form of communication microbes use to coordinate group behavior based on cell density. One methanotroph, a desert plant symbiont known as Methylocaldum sp. 0917 (0917), is of interest because its QS machinery is located near a biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) which could produce an interesting new natural product. Due to the proximity of the QS machinery to this BGC, we predict that the activity of this BGC could be regulated by QS. We constructed a heterologous expression strain of 0917's QS synthase in E. coli and used LCMS analysis to determine that 0917 uses the QS molecule N-octanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (C8-HSL) to communicate. Using a fluorescence based reporter assay, we are beginning to quantify the expression of this QS signal in wild-type 0917. We are also constructing a synthase deletion mutant of 0917 to determine which molecules are produced when QS is active, which will help to determine whether the BGC is indeed regulated by QS. By continuing work on elucidating the structure of NPs produced by underexplored bacteria such as 0917, we can begin to solve the problem of AMR infections.

Presenter Name: JC Herrmann

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #76
College: Science
School / Department: Chemistry
Research Mentor: Aaron Puri
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM