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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (9)
Articles by R. Sean Norman in JoVE
Extraction of High Molecular Weight DNA from Microbial Mats
Benjamin S. Bey, Erin B. Fichot, R. Sean Norman
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina
We provide an improved protocol for extracting high molecular weight DNA from hypersaline microbial mats. Microbial cells are separated from the mat matrix prior to DNA extraction and purification. This enhances the concentrations, quality, and size of the DNA. The protocol may be used for other refractory samples.
Other articles by R. Sean Norman on PubMed
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Oct, 2002 | Pubmed ID: 12324360
Bacterial utilization of crude oil components, such as the n-alkanes, requires complex cell surface adaptation to allow adherence to oil. To better understand microbial cell surface adaptation to growth on crude oil, the cell surface characteristics of two Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains, U1 and U3, both isolated from the same crude oil-degrading microbial community enriched on Bonny Light crude oil (BLC), were compared. Analysis of growth rates demonstrated an increased lag time for U1 cells compared to U3 cells. Amendment with EDTA inhibited U1 and U3 growth and degradation of the n-alkane component of BLC, suggesting a link between cell surface structure and crude oil degradation. U1 cells demonstrated a smooth-to-rough colony morphology transition when grown on BLC, while U3 cells exhibited rough colony morphology at the outset. Combining high-resolution atomic force microscopy of the cell surface and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of extracted lipopolysaccharides (LPS), we demonstrate that isolates grown on BLC have reduced O-antigen expression compared with that of glucose-grown cells. The loss of O-antigen resulted in shorter LPS molecules, increased cell surface hydrophobicity, and increased n-alkane degradation.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Jul, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15240276
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an n-alkane degrader that is frequently isolated from petroleum-contaminated sites and produces factors that enhance its competitiveness and survival in many environments. In this study, one such factor, pyocyanin, has been detected in an oil-degrading culture containing P. aeruginosa and is a redox-active compound capable of inhibiting microbial growth. To examine the effects of pyocyanin further, an oil-degrading culture was grown with and without 9.5 microM pyocyanin and microbial community structure and oil degradation were monitored for 50 days. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of cultures revealed a decrease in the microbial community diversity in the pyocyanin-amended cultures compared to that of the unamended cultures. Two members of the microbial community in pure culture exhibited intermediate and high sensitivities to pyocyanin corresponding to intermediate and low levels of activity for the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase, respectively. Another member of the community that remained constant in the DGGE gels over the 50-day culture incubation period exhibited no sensitivity to pyocyanin, corresponding to a high level of catalase and superoxide dismutase when examined in pure culture. Pyocyanin also affected the overall degradation of the crude oil. At 50 days, the culture without pyocyanin had decreased polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons compared to the pyocyanin-amended culture, with a specific reduction in the degradation of dibenzothiophenes, naphthalenes, and C(29) and C(30) hopanes. This study demonstrated that pyocyanin influenced the diversity of the microbial community and suggests the importance of understanding how interspecies interactions influence the degradation capability of a microbial community.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Jun, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16751518
The degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by bacteria has been widely studied. While many pure cultures have been isolated and characterized for their ability to grow on PAHs, limited information is available on the diversity of microbes involved in PAH degradation in the environment. We have designed generic PCR primers targeting the gene fragment encoding the Rieske iron sulfur center common to all PAH dioxygenase enzymes. These Rieske primers were employed to track dioxygenase gene population shifts in soil enrichment cultures following exposure to naphthalene, phenanthrene, or pyrene. PAH degradation was monitored by gas chromatograph with flame ionization detection. DNA was extracted from the enrichment cultures following PAH degradation. 16S rRNA and Rieske gene fragments were PCR amplified from DNA extracted from each enrichment culture and an unamended treatment. The PCR products were cloned and sequenced. Molecular monitoring of the enrichment cultures before and after PAH degradation using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 16S rRNA gene libraries suggests that specific phylotypes of bacteria were associated with the degradation of each PAH. Sequencing of the cloned Rieske gene fragments showed that different suites of genes were present in soil microbe populations under each enrichment culture condition. Many of the Rieske gene fragment sequences fell into clades which are distinct from the reference dioxygenase gene sequences used to design the PCR primers. The ability to profile not only the bacterial community but also the dioxygenases which they encode provides a powerful tool for both assessing bioremediation potential in the environment and for the discovery of novel dioxygenase genes.
Nano Letters. Jan, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18062714
Increases in the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria require new approaches for the treatment of infectious bacterial pathogens. It is now clear that a nanotechnology-driven approach using nanoparticles to selectively target and destroy pathogenic bacteria can be successfully implemented. We have explored this approach by using gold nanorods that have been covalently linked to primary antibodies to selectively destroy the pathogenic Gram-negative bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We find that, following nanorod attachment to the bacterial cell surface, exposure to near-infrared radiation results in a significant reduction in bacterial cell viability.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Jun, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18424536
A simple, sensitive, and rapid cell-free assay system was developed for detection of N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) autoinducers involved in bacterial quorum sensing (QS). The present approach improves upon previous whole-cell biosensor-based approaches in its utilization of a cell-free assay approach to conduct bioassays. The cell-free assay was derived from the AHL biosensor bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens NTL4(pCF218)(pCF372), allowing the expression of beta-galactosidase upon addition of exogenous AHLs. We have shown that beta-galactosidase expression is possible in cell-free solution [lysate from Agrobacterium tumefaciens NTL4(pCF218)(pCF372) culture]. Assay detection limits with the use of chromogenic substrate X-Gal (5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-beta-D-galactopyranoside) ranged from approximately 100 nM to 300 nM depending on the specific AHL. Replacement (of X-Gal) with the luminescent substrate Beta-Glo increased sensitivity to AHLs by 10-fold. A major advantage of the cell-free assay system is elimination of time-consuming steps for biosensor cell culture conditioning, which are required prior to whole-cell bioassays. This significantly reduced assay times from greater than 24 h to less than 3 h, while maintaining high sensitivity. Assay lysate may be prepared in bulk and stored (-80 degrees C) over 6 months for future use. Finally, the present protocol may be adapted for use with other biosensor strains and be used in high-throughput AHL screening of bacteria or metagenomic libraries.
Autoinducers Extracted from Microbial Mats Reveal a Surprising Diversity of N-acylhomoserine Lactones (AHLs) and Abundance Changes That May Relate to Diel PH
Environmental Microbiology. Feb, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19196272
Microbial mats are highly structured and diverse communities, and one of the earliest-known life assemblages. Mat bacteria interact within an environment marked by strong geochemical gradients and fluctuations. We examined natural mat systems for the presence of autoinducers involved in quorum sensing, a form of cell-cell communication. Our results revealed that a diverse array of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) including C(4)- to C(14)-AHLs, were identified from mat extracts using mass spectrometry (MS), with further confirmation by MS/MS-collision-induced dissociation (CID), and additions of external standards. Microelectrode measurements showed that mats exhibited diel pH fluctuations, ranging from alkaline (pH 9.4) during daytime (net photosynthesis) to acidic (pH 6.8) during darkness (net respiration/fermentation). Under laboratory conditions, AHLs having shorter acyl-chains were degraded within the time frame that daily alkaline pH (> 8.2) conditions exist in mats. Intensive sampling of mats after full day- or night-time incubations revealed that accumulations of extractable shorter-chain AHLs (e.g. C(8)- and C(10)-AHLs) were significantly (P < 0.001) diminished during daytime. Our study offers evidence that stabilities of AHLs under natural conditions may be influenced by the proximal extracellular environment. We further propose that the ancient periodicity of photosynthesis/respiration in mats may potentially drive a mechanism for diel differences in activities of certain autoinducers, and hence bacterial activities mediated through quorum sensing.
Trends in Microbiology. Feb, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20060299
Much laboratory-based information exists on quorum sensing, a type of bacterial cell-to-cell communication that depends upon exchanges of molecular signals between neighboring cells. However, little is known about how this and other microbial sensing systems operate in nature. Geochemical and biological modifications of signals probably occur in extracellular environments, and these could disrupt intended communication if signals are no longer recognized. However, as we discuss here, signal alterations might result in other outcomes: if a modified signal is able to interact with a different receptor then further environmental information can be gained by the receiving cells. We also postulate that quorum sensing occurs within cell clusters, where signal dispersion might be significantly influenced by extracellular polymers. As a model system to discuss these points we use microbial mats - highly-structured biofilm communities living under sharply-defined, fluctuating geochemical gradients.
BioTechniques. Sep, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20854264
Due to the presence of inhibitors such as extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) and salts, most microbial mat studies have relied on harsh methods of direct DNA extraction that result in DNA fragments too small for large-insert vector cloning. High molecular weight (HMW) DNA is crucial in functional metagenomic studies, because large fragments present greater access to genes of interest. Here we report improved methodologies for extracting HMW DNA from EPS-rich hypersaline microbial mats. The protocol uses a combination of microbial cell separation with mechanical and chemical methods for DNA extraction and purification followed by precipitation with polyethylene glycol (PEG). The protocol yields >2 µg HMW DNA (>48 kb) per gram of mat sample, with A260:280 ratios >1.7. In addition, 16S rRNA gene analysis using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and pyrosequencing showed that this protocol extracts representative DNA from microbial mat communities and results in higher overall calculated diversity indices compared with three other standard methods of DNA extraction. Our results show the importance of validating the DNA extraction methods used in metagenomic studies to ensure optimal recovery of microbial richness.
Characterization and Quantitation of a Novel β-lactamase Gene Found in a Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Surrounding Coastal Ecosystem
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Dec, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21965412
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are engineered structures that collect, concentrate, and treat human waste, ultimately releasing treated wastewater into local environments. While WWTPs efficiently remove most biosolids, it has been shown that many antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can survive the treatment process. To determine how WWTPs influence the concentration and dissemination of antibiotic-resistant genes into the environment, a functional metagenomic approach was used to identify a novel antibiotic resistance gene within a WWTP, and quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used to determine gene copy numbers within the facility and the local coastal ecosystem. From the WWTP metagenomic library, the fosmid insert contained in one highly resistant clone (MIC, ≈ 416 μg ml(-1) ampicillin) was sequenced and annotated, revealing 33 putative genes, including a 927-bp gene that is 42% identical to a functionally characterized β-lactamase from Staphylococcus aureus PC1. Isolation and subcloning of this gene, referred to as bla(M-1), conferred ampicillin resistance to its Escherichia coli host. When normalized to volume, qPCR showed increased concentrations of bla(M-1) during initial treatment stages but 2-fold-decreased concentrations during the final treatment stage. The concentration ng(-1) DNA increased throughout the WWTP process from influent to effluent, suggesting that bla(M-1) makes up a significant proportion of the overall genetic material being released into the coastal ecosystem. Average discharge was estimated to be 3.9 × 10(14) copies of the bla(M-1) gene released daily into this coastal ecosystem. Furthermore, the gene was observed in all sampled coastal water and sediment samples surrounding the facility. Our results suggest that WWTPs may be a pathway for the dissemination of novel antibiotic resistance genes into the environment.