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Endolithic microbial communities are prominent features of intertidal marine habitats, where they colonize a variety of substrates, contributing to their erosion. Almost 2 centuries worth of naturalistic studies focused on a few true-boring (euendolithic) phototrophs, but substrate preference has received little attention. The Isla de Mona (Puerto Rico) intertidal zone offers a unique setting to investigate substrate specificity of endolithic communities since various phosphate rock, limestone and dolostone outcrops occur there. High-throughput 16S rDNA genetic sampling, enhanced by targeted cultivation, revealed that, while euendolithic cyanobacteria were dominant operational taxonomic units (OTUs), the communities were invariably of high diversity, well beyond ...

Contributors
Couradeau, Estelle, Roush, Daniel, Guida, Brandon, et al.
Created Date
2017-01-23

The filamentous, non-heterocystous cyanobacterium Lyngbya aestuarii is an important contributor to marine intertidal microbial mats system worldwide. The recent isolate L. aestuarii BL J, is an unusually powerful hydrogen producer. Here we report a morphological, ultrastructural, and genomic characterization of this strain to set the basis for future systems studies and applications of this organism. The filaments contain circa 17 μm wide trichomes, composed of stacked disk-like short cells (2 μm long), encased in a prominent, laminated exopolysaccharide sheath. Cellular division occurs by transversal centripetal growth of cross-walls, where several rounds of division proceed simultaneously. Filament division occurs by cell ...

Contributors
Kothari, Ankita, Vaughn, Michael, Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, et al.
Created Date
2013-12-11

Mastigocoleus testarum strain BC008 is a model organism used to study marine photoautotrophic carbonate dissolution. It is a multicellular, filamentous, diazotrophic, euendolithic cyanobacterium ubiquitously found in marine benthic environments. We present an accurate draft genome assembly of 172 contigs spanning 12,700,239 bp with 9,131 annotated genes with an average G+C% of 37.3.

Contributors
Guida, Brandon, Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2016-01-28

Soils are arguably the most microbially diverse ecosystems. Physicochemical properties have been associated with the maintenance of this diversity. Yet, the role of microbial substrate specialization is largely unexplored since substrate utilization studies have focused on simple substrates, not the complex mixtures representative of the soil environment. Here we examine the exometabolite composition of desert biological soil crusts (biocrusts) and the substrate preferences of seven biocrust isolates. The biocrust's main primary producer releases a diverse array of metabolites, and isolates of physically associated taxa use unique subsets of the complex metabolite pool. Individual isolates use only 13−26% of available metabolites, ...

Contributors
Baran, Richard, Brodie, Eoin L., Mayberry-Lewis, Jazmine, et al.
Created Date
2015-09-22

The heterocyclic indole-alkaloid scytonemin is a sunscreen found exclusively among cyanobacteria. An 18-gene cluster is responsible for scytonemin production in Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133. The upstream genes scyABCDEF in the cluster are proposed to be responsible for scytonemin biosynthesis from aromatic amino acid substrates. In vitro studies of ScyA, ScyB, and ScyC proved that these enzymes indeed catalyze initial pathway reactions. Here we characterize the role of ScyD, ScyE, and ScyF, which were logically predicted to be responsible for late biosynthetic steps, in the biological context of N. punctiforme. In-frame deletion mutants of each were constructed (ΔscyD, ΔscyE, and ΔscyF) ...

Contributors
Ferreira, Daniela, Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2016-05-18

Soil surface temperature, an important driver of terrestrial biogeochemical processes, depends strongly on soil albedo, which can be significantly modified by factors such as plant cover. In sparsely vegetated lands, the soil surface can be colonized by photosynthetic microbes that build biocrust communities. Here we use concurrent physical, biochemical and microbiological analyses to show that mature biocrusts can increase surface soil temperature by as much as 10 °C through the accumulation of large quantities of a secondary metabolite, the microbial sunscreen scytonemin, produced by a group of late-successional cyanobacteria. Scytonemin accumulation decreases soil albedo significantly. Such localized warming has apparent ...

Contributors
Couradeau, Estelle, Karaoz, Ulas, Lim, Hsiao Chien, et al.
Created Date
2016-01-20

N[subscript 2] fixation and ammonia oxidation (AO) are the two most important processes in the nitrogen (N) cycle of biological soil crusts (BSCs). We studied the short-term response of acetylene reduction assay (ARA) rates, an indicator of potential N[subscript 2] fixation, and AO rates to temperature (T, -5°C to 35°C) in BSC of different successional stages along the BSC ecological succession and geographic origin (hot Chihuahuan and cooler Great Basin deserts). ARA in all BSCs increased with T until saturation occurred between 15 and 20°C, and declined at 30–35°C. Culture studies using cyanobacteria isolated from these crusts indicated that the ...

Contributors
Zhou, Xiaobing, Smith, Hilda, Girardo Silva, Ana Maria, et al.
Created Date
2016-10-24

Biological Soil Crusts (BSCs) are organosedimentary assemblages comprised of microbes and minerals in topsoil of terrestrial environments. BSCs strongly impact soil quality in dryland ecosystems (e.g., soil structure and nutrient yields) due to pioneer species such as Microcoleus vaginatus; phototrophs that produce filaments that bind the soil together, and support an array of heterotrophic microorganisms. These microorganisms in turn contribute to soil stability and biogeochemistry of BSCs. Non-cyanobacterial populations of BSCs are less well known than cyanobacterial populations. Therefore, we attempted to isolate a broad range of numerically significant and phylogenetically representative BSC aerobic heterotrophs. Combining simple pre-treatments (hydration of ...

Contributors
Nunes Da Rocha, Ulisses, Cadillo-Quiroz, Hinsby, Karaoz, Ulas, et al.
Created Date
2015-03-19

Background The extracellular sunscreen scytonemin is the most common and widespread indole-alkaloid among cyanobacteria. Previous research using the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133 revealed a unique 18-gene cluster (NpR1276 to NpR1259 in the N. punctiforme genome) involved in the biosynthesis of scytonemin. We provide further genomic characterization of these genes in N. punctiforme and extend it to homologous regions in other cyanobacteria. Results Six putative genes in the scytonemin gene cluster (NpR1276 to NpR1271 in the N. punctiforme genome), with no previously known protein function and annotated in this study as scyA to scyF, are likely involved in the assembly ...

Contributors
Soule, Tanya, Palmer, Kendra, Gao, Qunjie, et al.
Created Date
2009-07-24

Cyanobacteria are considered good models for biohydrogen production because they are relatively simple organisms with a demonstrable ability to generate H[subscript 2] under certain physiological conditions. However, most produce only little H[subscript 2], revert readily to H[subscript 2] consumption, and suffer from hydrogenase sensitivity to O[subscript 2]. Strains of the cyanobacteria Lyngbya aestuarii and Microcoleus chthonoplastes obtained from marine intertidal cyanobacterial mats were recently found to display much better H[subscript 2] production potential. Because of their ecological origin in environments that become quickly anoxic in the dark, we hypothesized that this differential ability may have evolved to serve a role ...

Contributors
Kothari, Ankita, Parameswaran, Prathap, Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, et al.
Created Date
2014-12-10