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Progress Reports: University of California-Berkeley: Microbial Communities that Bioremediate Chemical Mixtures

Superfund Research Program

Microbial Communities that Bioremediate Chemical Mixtures

Project Leader: Lisa Alvarez-Cohen
Co-Investigator: Jillian F. Banfield
Grant Number: P42ES004705
Funding Period: 2017-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Progress Reports

Year:   2020  2019  2018  2017 

For arsenic remediation, the Microbial Communities that Bioremediate Chemical Mixtures Project are perusing both enrichment cultures and a big data approach. Researchers are mining large sequence datasets to identify microorganisms capable of modifying arsenic and will combine the associated metadata to synthesize a model that can predict the potential reaction of microbial communities to arsenic perturbations. For TCE, the work is focused on defined consortia and communities containing Dehalococcoides mccartyi exposed to both TCE and arsenic. The lab are also developing genetic tools (CRISPR-CAS9) that can be applied to bacterial consortia containing Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough (DvH) to elucidate microbial interactions. This year, the team worked on Aims 1-3 in parallel. In Aim 1, researchers continued big-data analysis to uncover important differences in the metabolic capabilities of the most well studied bacterial phyla compared to all other phyla (important since the well-studied phyla are not necessarily the most important in the environment but rather the easiest to grow in the lab). For Aim 2, the project team investigated a tri-culture of D. mccartyi and DvH with and without Methanosarcina acetivorans (MsA) under high salinity stress and showed that the presence of MsA is necessary to confer arsenic resistance and enable TCE reduction by D. mccartyi. For Aim 3, the researchers detected both upregulated and downregulated expression of genes in D. mccartyi and DvH under differing arsenic concentrations and are investigating their function. In order to ensure successful, but elusive, CRISPR gene editing in the model bacterium DvH, the team acquired a more susceptible strain with a higher transformation efficiency and are currently attempting to transform it with larger plasmids.

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