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2.  A Fosmid Cloning Strategy for Detecting the Widest Possible Spectrum of Microbes from the International Space Station Drinking Water System 
Genomics & Informatics  2012;10(4):249-255.
In this study, fosmid cloning strategies were used to assess the microbial populations in water from the International Space Station (ISS) drinking water system (henceforth referred to as Prebiocide and Tank A water samples). The goals of this study were: to compare the sensitivity of the fosmid cloning strategy with that of traditional culture-based and 16S rRNA-based approaches and to detect the widest possible spectrum of microbial populations during the water purification process. Initially, microbes could not be cultivated, and conventional PCR failed to amplify 16S rDNA fragments from these low biomass samples. Therefore, randomly primed rolling-circle amplification was used to amplify any DNA that might be present in the samples, followed by size selection by using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The amplified high-molecular-weight DNA from both samples was cloned into fosmid vectors. Several hundred clones were randomly selected for sequencing, followed by Blastn/Blastx searches. Sequences encoding specific genes from Burkholderia, a species abundant in the soil and groundwater, were found in both samples. Bradyrhizobium and Mesorhizobium, which belong to rhizobia, a large community of nitrogen fixers often found in association with plant roots, were present in the Prebiocide samples. Ralstonia, which is prevalent in soils with a high heavy metal content, was detected in the Tank A samples. The detection of many unidentified sequences suggests the presence of potentially novel microbial fingerprints. The bacterial diversity detected in this pilot study using a fosmid vector approach was higher than that detected by conventional 16S rRNA gene sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3543926  PMID: 23346038
fosmid; international space station; multiple displacement amplification; rolling-circle amplification
3.  Ag colloids and Ag clusters over EDAPTMS-coated silica nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization, and antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli 
To produce better antibacterial water-insoluble nanocomposites of silver (Ag), silver–silicon dioxide (Ag-SiO2) hybrid and silver colloid (Ag-c) nanoparticles (NPs) were studied. Ag-c NPs were synthesized using reduction of AgNO3, and Ag-SiO2 composites were prepared on a core of silica NPs functionalized with ethylenediamino-propyltrimethoxysilane, where Ag clusters were fabricated on amino groups using seed-mediated growth and characterized by transmission electron microscopy and ultraviolet-visible absorption spectroscopy. Antibacterial, effectiveness of the Ag-SiO2 NPs was tested against general Escherichia coli (E. coli ATCC 25922) and E. coli O157:H7 by measuring the growth based on optical density and digital counting of live-dead cells using a fluorescent microscope, and a field emission scanning electron microscope. Minimum inhibitory concentration values were studied against four representative bacteria along with E. coli O157:H7. Results showed that Ag NPs of 6.6 ± 4.5 nm were attached to the surface of SiO2 NPs (74 ± 13.5 nm), and the Ag-c NPs (3.5 ± 2 nm) showed excellent antibacterial properties.
PMCID: PMC3219786  PMID: 21094275
Ag-SiO2 nanoparticles; Ag colloids; Transmission electron microscopy; Field emission scanning electron microscopy; Optical density; Antibacterial
4.  Paradoxical DNA Repair and Peroxide Resistance Gene Conservation in Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e928.
Bacillus spores are notoriously resistant to unfavorable conditions such as UV radiation, γ-radiation, H2O2, desiccation, chemical disinfection, or starvation. Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032 survives standard decontamination procedures of the Jet Propulsion Lab spacecraft assembly facility, and both spores and vegetative cells of this strain exhibit elevated resistance to UV radiation and H2O2 compared to other Bacillus species.
Principal Findings
The genome of B. pumilus SAFR-032 was sequenced and annotated. Lists of genes relevant to DNA repair and the oxidative stress response were generated and compared to B. subtilis and B. licheniformis. Differences in conservation of genes, gene order, and protein sequences are highlighted because they potentially explain the extreme resistance phenotype of B. pumilus. The B. pumilus genome includes genes not found in B. subtilis or B. licheniformis and conserved genes with sequence divergence, but paradoxically lacks several genes that function in UV or H2O2 resistance in other Bacillus species.
This study identifies several candidate genes for further research into UV and H2O2 resistance. These findings will help explain the resistance of B. pumilus and are applicable to understanding sterilization survival strategies of microbes.
PMCID: PMC1976550  PMID: 17895969
5.  Isolation and Characterization of Bacteria Capable of Tolerating the Extreme Conditions of Clean Room Environments▿  
In assessing the bacterial populations present in spacecraft assembly, spacecraft test, and launch preparation facilities, extremophilic bacteria (requiring severe conditions for growth) and extremotolerant bacteria (tolerant to extreme conditions) were isolated. Several cultivation approaches were employed to select for and identify bacteria that not only survive the nutrient-limiting conditions of clean room environments but can also withstand even more inhospitable environmental stresses. Due to their proximity to spacefaring objects, these bacteria pose a considerable risk for forward contamination of extraterrestrial sites. Samples collected from four geographically distinct National Aeronautics and Space Administration clean rooms were challenged with UV-C irradiation, 5% hydrogen peroxide, heat shock, pH extremes (pH 3.0 and 11.0), temperature extremes (4°C to 65°C), and hypersalinity (25% NaCl) prior to and/or during cultivation as a means of selecting for extremotolerant bacteria. Culture-independent approaches were employed to measure viable microbial (ATP-based) and total bacterial (quantitative PCR-based) burdens. Intracellular ATP concentrations suggested a viable microbial presence ranging from below detection limits to 106 cells/m2. However, only 0.1 to 55% of these viable cells were able to grow on defined culture medium. Isolated members of the Bacillaceae family were more physiologically diverse than those reported in previous studies, including thermophiles (Geobacillus), obligate anaerobes (Paenibacillus), and halotolerant, alkalophilic species (Oceanobacillus and Exiguobacterium). Non-spore-forming microbes (α- and β-proteobacteria and actinobacteria) exhibiting tolerance to the selected stresses were also encountered. The multiassay cultivation approach employed herein enhances the current understanding of the physiological diversity of bacteria housed in these clean rooms and leads us to ponder the origin and means of translocation of thermophiles, anaerobes, and halotolerant alkalophiles into these environments.
PMCID: PMC1855582  PMID: 17308177
6.  Survival of Spacecraft-Associated Microorganisms under Simulated Martian UV Irradiation 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(12):8147-8156.
Spore-forming microbes recovered from spacecraft surfaces and assembly facilities were exposed to simulated Martian UV irradiation. The effects of UVA (315 to 400 nm), UVA+B (280 to 400 nm), and the full UV spectrum (200 to 400 nm) on the survival of microorganisms were studied at UV intensities expected to strike the surfaces of Mars. Microbial species isolated from the surfaces of several spacecraft, including Mars Odyssey, X-2000 (avionics), and the International Space Station, and their assembly facilities were identified using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Forty-three Bacillus spore lines were screened, and 19 isolates showed resistance to UVC irradiation (200 to 280 nm) after exposure to 1,000 J m−2 of UVC irradiation at 254 nm using a low-pressure mercury lamp. Spores of Bacillus species isolated from spacecraft-associated surfaces were more resistant than a standard dosimetric strain, Bacillus subtilis 168. In addition, the exposure time required for UVA+B irradiation to reduce the viable spore numbers by 90% was 35-fold longer than the exposure time required for the full UV spectrum to do this, confirming that UVC is the primary biocidal bandwidth. Among the Bacillus species tested, spores of a Bacillus pumilus strain showed the greatest resistance to all three UV bandwidths, as well as the total spectrum. The resistance to simulated Mars UV irradiation was strain specific; B. pumilus SAFR-032 exhibited greater resistance than all other strains tested. The isolation of organisms like B. pumilus SAFR-032 and the greater survival of this organism (sixfold) than of the standard dosimetric strains should be considered when the sanitation capabilities of UV irradiation are determined.
PMCID: PMC1317311  PMID: 16332797
8.  Molecular Basis of a Bacterial Consortium: Interspecies Catabolism of Atrazine 
Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP contains the genes, atzA, -B, and -C, that encode three enzymes which metabolize atrazine to cyanuric acid. Atrazine-catabolizing pure cultures isolated from around the world contain genes homologous to atzA, -B, and -C. The present study was conducted to determine whether the same genes are present in an atrazine-catabolizing bacterial consortium and how the genes and metabolism are subdivided among member species. The consortium contained four or more bacterial species, but two members, Clavibacter michiganese ATZ1 and Pseudomonas sp. strain CN1, collectively mineralized atrazine. C. michiganese ATZ1 released chloride from atrazine, produced hydroxyatrazine, and contained a homolog to the atzA gene that encoded atrazine chlorohydrolase. C. michiganese ATZ1 stoichiometrically metabolized hydroxyatrazine to N-ethylammelide and contained genes homologous to atzB and atzC, suggesting that either a functional AtzB or -C catalyzed N-isopropylamine release from hydroxyatrazine. C. michiganese ATZ1 grew on isopropylamine as its sole carbon and nitrogen source, explaining the ability of the consortium to use atrazine as the sole carbon and nitrogen source. A second consortium member, Pseudomonas sp. strain CN1, metabolized the N-ethylammelide produced by C. michiganese ATZ1 to transiently form cyanuric acid, a reaction catalyzed by AtzC. A gene homologous to the atzC gene of Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP was present, as demonstrated by Southern hybridization and PCR. Pseudomonas sp. strain CN1, but not C. michiganese, metabolized cyanuric acid. The consortium metabolized atrazine faster than did C. michiganese individually. Additionally, the consortium metabolized a much broader set of triazine ring compounds than did previously described pure cultures in which the atzABC genes had been identified. These data begin to elucidate the genetic and metabolic bases of catabolism by multimember consortia.
PMCID: PMC124690  PMID: 16349478

Results 1-8 (8)