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2002 Annual Science Report

Marine Biological Laboratory Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Relationship of Genetic Changes to Phenotypic Changes in Organism -- Environment Interactions

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

The initial project on opsins from species within the insect order Odoanta has been replaced with one that shares a much broader conceptual and procedural similarity with other Astrobiology projects at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and with Astrobiology projects at other NAI members.

A new project is being initiated on the bacterium Cytophaga 9A5, a gliding bacterium of low G+C content, which puts this bacterium in the Cytophaga/Flexibacter group. Cytophaga 9A5 lacks flexirubin, putting it in Cytophaga, although the taxon does not use any carbohydrate (not even glucose) as a carbon source, which is a hallmark of Cytophaga as originally defined. There is ongoing work assessing the metabolic capabilities, growth conditions and other characteristics. Cytophaga 9A5 is a mercury-resistant taxon, although mercury resistance has not been described in the group. Cytophaga 9A5 appears to be part of a larger group of marine gliding bacteria that includes Polaribacter, other pyschrophiles, and other marine Cytophaga that are likely to be assigned to different genus. Together these properties provide strong evidence that Cytophaga 9A5 and related bacteria have the capability to withstand extreme environments and thus may provide some insight into life processes that might be relevant in other planetary environments.

Taking advantage of the high-throughput sequencing capabilities at the Marine Biological Laboratory, we are sequencing and analyzing portions of the genome to identify genes that may be associated with life processes in extreme environments.

    Michael Cummings
    Project Investigator

    Erica Lasek-Nesselquist
    Research Staff

    Laura McInerney
    Research Staff

    Objective 4.0
    Expand and interpret the genomic database of a select group of key microorganisms in order to reveal the history and dynamics of evolution.

    Objective 6.0
    Define how ecophysiological processes structure microbial communities, influence their adaptation and evolution, and affect their detection on other planets.

    Objective 7.0
    Identify the environmental limits for life by examining biological adaptations to extremes in environmental conditions.