Navigation Links
UNH, UC Davis launch network to study environmental microbes

DURHAM, N.H. A grant to the University of New Hampshire and the University of California, Davis, will help biologists identify an abundant yet largely unknown category of organisms, leading to better understanding of the vital environmental functions they play.

The National Science Foundation awarded the two universities $500,000 to develop a Research Coordination Network on eukaryotic biodiversity. The work will apply new genome sequencing technology to study and classify microscopic eukaryote species like nematodes, fungi, and single-celled animals.

These small yet complex organisms are invisible to the eye but abundant in marine and terrestrial environments from sandy beaches to garden plots. "If you're making a sandcastle, there are thousands and thousands of these creatures in a handful of sand. They provide key ecosystem services," says co-principal investigator W. Kelley Thomas, Hubbard Professor in Genomics and director of UNH's Hubbard Center for Genome Studies. They process waste, cycle nutrients, and even "eat" spilled oil, he says.

"I call them the 'dark matter' of biology," says Holly Bik, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and co-principal investigator on the project. "They are in every single environment, but no one looks at them." Bik worked with Thomas as a postdoctoral researcher at UNH.

The traditional taxonomic approach to biodiversity involves looking at an organism and describing the features legs, wings, teeth, leaves that make it similar to or distinct from other organisms. Because taxonomy is far easier and more efficient to apply to cats and cows and pine trees than to microscopic organisms like nematodes, knowledge of the Earth's biodiversity shows a distinct bias toward larger species.

Now, new high-throughput DNA sequencing technology makes it possible to identify and classify these organisms much more quickly and comprehensively, describing each species with a short "barcode" of several hundred nucleotides.

The goal of this new network is to bring together researchers from different fields: taxonomists expert in identifying organisms; ecologists who study these ecosystems; genome scientists and computational biologists who can figure out how to analyze sequence data from these relatively complex animals.

The team aims to organize an annual "catalysis" meeting to bring researchers together, and they will also sponsor symposia at other scientific meetings. The program will bring scientists from around the world to UNH to collaborate toward better understand global patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem function. In addition, it will support an expanded relationship with two biodiversity experts (Eyualem Abebe at Elizabeth City State University and Jyotsna Sharma-Srinivasan at The University of Texas, San Antonio). These partners serve significant populations of undergraduates from underrepresented groups and expand the potential diversity of scientists that will ultimately address long standing questions in biodiversity.

The network will also develop undergraduate training programs on taxonomy and genomics, based at UNH. Activities like "bioinformatics bootcamps" will enhance students' research skills through interdisciplinary training.

"If we want the field to move forward we need to train the next generation of scientists," Bik says.


Contact: Beth Potier
University of New Hampshire

Related biology news :

1. UC Davis scientists find new role for P53 genetic mutation -- initiation of prostate cancer
2. UC Davis study finds that above-normal weight alone does not increase the short-term risk of death
3. UC Davis researchers develop new drug delivery system for bladder cancer using nanoparticles
4. UC Davis researchers aid effort to sequence the complex wheat genome
5. UC Davis study deflates notion that pear-shaped bodies more healthy than apples
6. UC Davis researchers discover molecular target for the bacterial infection brucellosis
7. UC Davis team spikes stem cells to generate myelin
8. UC Davis researchers discover a biological link between diabetes and heart disease
9. LABS, Inc. Launches Suite of Next-Generation Test Offerings; Focuses on Expanding Complex Biologic Testing Portfolio in 2012
10. Launch of PLoS Currents: Disasters
11. Flavor and the new Nordic cuisine: BioMed Centrals new scientific journal Flavor is launched
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
UNH, UC Davis launch network to study environmental microbes
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus ... --> --> ... to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... , Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID Inc., ... authentication to mobile and PC devices, announced its ActiveIRIS® ... the arrows NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, INC ... F-02H is the second smartphone to include iris recognition ... in ARROWS NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s first ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... AWRE ), a leading supplier of biometrics software and services, ... 2015.  --> --> Revenue ... of 33% compared to $6.0 million in the same quarter last ... million, or $0.10 per diluted share, which compared to $2.6 million, ... ago.  --> --> Lower ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 --> ... specializing in imaging technologies, announced today that it has received ... of the Horizon 2020 European Union Framework Programme for Research ... clinical trial in breast cancer. , --> ... --> --> The study aims ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Studies reveal the differences in species ... the way for more effective treatment for one of the ... --> --> Gum disease ... cats, yet relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated ... conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... of Black Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a ... leaders met with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The trend ... result in lower margins but higher volume share ... increased capacity and scale, however, margins in the ... Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ), ...
Breaking Biology Technology: