Novel microbes

“To know it is to grow it” is a central tenet in microbiology.  However, very few microorganisms from deep subsurface environments or other ‘extreme’ habitats are currently in culture.  A successful strategy for us has been to design growth media based on detailed, in situ geochemistry.  This has led to the isolation, full characterization, and publication of several novel taxa: Palaeococcus helgesonii, a hyperthermophilic archaeon from a geothermal well in Italy; Thermogladius shockii, a new hyperthermophilic archaeal genus from a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park; Burkholderia insulsa, a chemolithotrophic bacterium from arsenic-rich shallow-sea hydrothermal sediments in Papua New Guinea; and Bacillus rigiliprofundi, an endospore-forming, Mn-oxidizing halophilic bacterium from the deep subseafloor basaltic crust in the south-west Pacific Ocean.  Projects are currently underway to culture and characterize several new taxa, including ones from arsenic-rich sediments on Milos Island (Greece), the former Homestake gold mine in South Dakota, and a deep well near Death Valley.  Funded by several NSF and NASA grants, we’re hoping to identify several model organisms for the deep subsurface.

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Research Group