Grant: $281,559 - National Science Foundation - Aug. 28, 2009
50% voted satisfied - 50% voted not satisfied - 2 vote(s) cast
Award Description: Microbial energy transformations are fundamental to biomolecular processes that enable technologies such as biosensors, and microbial fuel cells for bioremediation and bioenergy. To develop and optimize these technologies it is critical to understand what microorganisms facilitate energy transformation in engineered systems and how they cooperatively maintain a living through energy transduction. The genetic components that are employed by such consortia to drive energy reactions must also be characterized to enable focused metabolic engineering approaches for optimizing biotechnology applications. Microbial energy metabolism is mainly dictated by electron transfer. 'Extracellular electron transfer (EET) is a strategy that microbes employ when the 'terminal electron acceptor is a solid-phase, such as electrode surfaces in biosensors and microbial fuel cell (MFC) systems. For example, it has been demonstrated that dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria are able to gain energy by using EET related proteins and enzymes to move electrons from the cellular inner-membrane to the inert electrode surfaces, where the electrons can then be harnessed as an electrical signal. It has also been reported that a mixed consortia of organisms will provide a stronger electrical signal, i.e., higher energy densities, than pure cultures. These results emphasize the need to understand how EET reactions are employed within a diverse microbial community. Given the observed prevalence of EET, we submit that common EET pathway(s) exist within microbial communities and can be elucidated by evaluating gene families that are expressed under defined EET conditions. We propose a hypothesis driven research project to: 1) examine metabolic flow and EET reactions in complex communities; 2) attempt to identify dominant pathway(s) that are essential for EET processes. The resulting information about EET pathway(s) will be utilized to optimize metabolic flow and maximize biocatalytic processes that are relevant to biotechnology applications.
Project Description: The purpose of this work is to identify core sets of genes that are involved with energy transduction in mixed microbial communties such that the genetic mechanisms associated with energy metabolism can be optimized for various biotechnology applications. This award was very recently funded at the beginning of August 2009. Since receiving notification our team has: 1) begun working with UCSD faculty to identify undergraduate interns; 2) collected the first set of environmental samples for microbial fuel cell testing; 3) designed and ordered the microbial fuel cell reactors for microbial enrichment; and 4) begun evaluating various strategies and molecular tools required for DNA and RNA extraction from biofilms. In the next quarter we intend to have microbial enrichments from multiple environments functioning in the microbial fuel cell reactors, and protocols established for metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses.
Jobs Summary: ARRA funding for this award supports JCVI's retention of 2 highly skilled and specific research positions which will include a Staff Scientist and Assistant Professor. Two new positions will be created under this funding; an intern and Post-Doctoral Scientist. In addition, the revenue generated by the indirects charged to this project partially supports the retention of the 70-plus administrative staff at the Institute. (Total jobs reported: 2)
Project Status: Not Started
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 28, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.