Basic Life Science Research Associate, Earth System Science
A distinct pathway for tetrahymanol synthesis in bacteria
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2015; 112 (44): 13478-13483
Tetrahymanol is a polycyclic triterpenoid lipid first discovered in the ciliate Tetrahymena pyriformis whose potential diagenetic product, gammacerane, is often used as a biomarker for water column stratification in ancient ecosystems. Bacteria are also a potential source of tetrahymanol, but neither the distribution of this lipid in extant bacteria nor the significance of bacterial tetrahymanol synthesis for interpreting gammacerane biosignatures is known. Here we couple comparative genomics with genetic and lipid analyses to link a protein of unknown function to tetrahymanol synthesis in bacteria. This tetrahymanol synthase (Ths) is found in a variety of bacterial genomes, including aerobic methanotrophs, nitrite-oxidizers, and sulfate-reducers, and in a subset of aquatic and terrestrial metagenomes. Thus, the potential to produce tetrahymanol is more widespread in the bacterial domain than previously thought. However, Ths is not encoded in any eukaryotic genomes, nor is it homologous to eukaryotic squalene-tetrahymanol cyclase, which catalyzes the cyclization of squalene directly to tetrahymanol. Rather, heterologous expression studies suggest that bacteria couple the cyclization of squalene to a hopene molecule by squalene-hopene cyclase with a subsequent Ths-dependent ring expansion to form tetrahymanol. Thus, bacteria and eukaryotes have evolved distinct biochemical mechanisms for producing tetrahymanol.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1511482112
View details for Web of Science ID 000364164900041
Spatial patterns of Aquificales in deep-sea vents along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center (SW Pacific).
Systematic and applied microbiology
2014; 37 (6): 442-448
The microbial diversity associated with actively venting deep-sea hydrothermal deposits is tightly connected to the geochemistry of the hydrothermal fluids. Although the dominant members of these deposits drive the structure of the microbial communities, it is less well understood whether the lower abundance groups are as closely connected to the geochemical milieu, or driven perhaps by biotic factors such as microbial community interactions. We used the natural geochemical gradients that exist in the back-arc basin, Eastern Lau Spreading Center and Valu-Fa Ridge (ELSC/VFR) in the Southwestern Pacific, to explore whether the chemolithotrophic Aquificales are influenced by geographical location, host-rock of the vent field or deposit type. Using a combination of cloning, DNA fingerprinting (DGGE) and enrichment culturing approaches, all genera of this order previously described at marine vents were detected, i.e., Desulfurobacterium, Thermovibrio, Aquifex, Hydrogenivirga, Persephonella and Hydrogenothermus. The comparison between clone libraries and DGGE showed similar patterns of distribution of different Aquificales whereas results differed for the enrichment cultures that were retrieved. However, the use of cultivation-based and -independent methods did provide complementary phylogenetic diversity overview of the Aquificales in these systems. Together, this survey revealed that the ELSC/VFR contains some of the largest diversity of Aquificales ever reported at a deep-sea vent area, that the diversity patterns are tied to the geography and geochemistry of the system, and that this geochemical diverse back-arc basin may harbor new members of the Aquificales.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.syapm.2014.04.002
View details for PubMedID 24862554