Grant: $94,321 - National Science Foundation - Jun. 24, 2009
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Award Description: Award description. Project summary: Growing recognition of the importance of complex microbial communities and biofilms in engineered systems for environmental, industrial, medicinal, agricultural and municipal applications has created a demand for new approaches and techniques for the characterization of these complex living systems. The ability to quantify the number and types of microorganisms within a community and its response to environmental stressors is fundamental to the understanding of the structure and function of any natural or engineered ecosystem containing microbial communities. Because microbial populations operate at spatiotemporal scales far removed from typical human perception, it has been difficult in the past to investigate their role in complex system behavior. This has emerged as a challenge at the forefront of analytical chemistry and bioseparation. One of the most powerful approaches for profiling microbial communities and understanding their dynamic interactions and responses to environmental stimuli is through examination of their DNA profiles, or 'metagenomes . However, the effectiveness of community DNA profiling with existing methods is limited because taxonomically unrelated organisms may produce the same length DNA, resulting in an underestimation of the true diversity of the community. Same length DNA must then be sequenced in order to reveal the hidden diversity within the profiles and obtain the true diversity of the sampled community, adding significantly to the time and expense of the analysis. There is a compelling need for separation methods to resolve the DNA not only by size but also by sequence, in order to detect the subtle differences in base pair composition within these ‘universal’ markers without having to sequence the entire metagenome of the microbial community. The proposed research is to improve the ability of DNA profiling methods to reveal the true diversity of microbial communities by resolving same length DNA with different sequences. This will be achieved by using a new gel medium that is formed by self?association of guanosine compounds. Combining the new gel with conventional sieving gels in capillary gel electrophoresis will lead to unprecedented resolution in length and sequence of community DNA that will reveal previously masked community diversity. The research at FIU, a minority institution, will be conducted by two undergraduate students. There will be an internship/laboratory exchange of the students from both institutions during the summer semesters of the 2nd and 3rd years of the grant. FIU students will spend 4?6 weeks at RPI learning separation techniques and the McGown students will travel to FIU where they will learn molecular techniques such as PCR, qPCR and DNA extractions. The broader impact of such an exchange will greatly enhance the breath and depth of knowledge for these student groups. The coalescence, synthesis and dissemination of all data will be a combined effort of the PI, co?PI and their students. These interdisciplinary efforts will result in greater dissemination of information across scientific fields and crossover into critical fields of engineering. The merging of molecular biology and separation sciences evolves as a natural progression of the current work of the PIs. By providing support for knowledge development and mentoring of minority graduate and undergraduates, this research experience will strengthen and broaden their knowledge base by the laboratory interactions and student exchange between the two institutions.
Project Description: I have begun to order equipment that will be needed to support the students. Several undergraduate students have been interviewed for participation in the project and beginning their training in the laboratory techniques used in the study. As soon as the training is complete, then the students will be assessed as to which student(s) will be selected to work on this particular project. That selection should be take place within the next month. At that point, the selected student(s) will begin active experimental design work begin their projects.
Jobs Summary: Jobs have not been created yet, as the project was just awarded. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jun. 24, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.