NMR and EPR
Interfacial and in situ biology—Innovative NMR instrumentation and techniques for probing properties of macromolecular cellular assemblies and in situ and ex situ metabolic processes, as well as for exploring biological membrane proteins in the solid state. Unique EPR and variable-temperature NMR approaches to explore structure and properties of redox metal centers critical to cell biology.
Environmental chemistry— EMSL offers a unique NMR system for radiological studies. Users can perform magic angle spinning of highly radioactive samples with a novel hermetically sealed 3.2mm NMR probe. These tools allow users to apply NMR techniques to critical areas of radiological research, including the study of radioactive waste processing and storage.
Interfacial and in situ chemistry—Leading-edge solid-state NMR probe technology to analyze and quantify properties of advanced energy materials, fuel cells and real-time catalytic processes. High power pulsed field gradient diffusion capabilities for liquid and solid samples.
EMSL offers unique and custom NMR and EPR tools, including probes for specialized studies.
- NMR spectrometers, ranging from 100 MHz to 850 MHz for high-field liquid-state, solid-state and micro-imaging techniques
- W- and X-band pulsed EPR spectrometers for probing metal centers in biological and materials systems
- NMR metabolomics capabilities
- Extreme-temperature probes, both high and low temperatures
- Virtual NMR tools for remote access to spectrometer systems.
Molecular systems important to biology, environmental remediation and sustainability are studied using a suite of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers with frequencies ranging from 300 to 850 MHz. A pair of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometers complement the capability.
Thermophilic bacteria are a potential source of enzymes for the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass. However, the complement of proteins used to deconstruct biomass and the specific roles of different microbial groups in thermophilic biomass deconstruction are not well-explored. Here we report on the metagenomic and proteogenomic analyses of a compost-derived bacterial consortium adapted to switchgrass at elevated temperature with high levels of glycoside hydrolase activities. Near-complete genomes were reconstructed for the most abundant populations, which included composite genomes for populations closely related to sequenced strains of Thermus thermophilus and Rhodothermus marinus, and for novel populations that are related to thermophilic Paenibacilli and an uncultivated subdivision of the littlestudied Gemmatimonadetes phylum. Partial genomes were also reconstructed for a number of lower abundance thermophilic Chloroflexi populations. Identification of genes for lignocellulose processing and metabolic reconstructions suggested Rhodothermus, Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes as key groups for deconstructing biomass, and Thermus as a group that may primarily metabolize low molecular weight compounds. Mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of the consortium was used to identify .3000 proteins in fractionated samples from the cultures, and confirmed the importance of Paenibacillus and Gemmatimonadetes to biomass deconstruction. These studies also indicate that there are unexplored proteins with important roles in bacterial lignocellulose deconstruction.
The anaerobic isolate Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1 was initially cultivated based on anaerobic growth on lignin as sole carbon source. The source of the isolated bacteria was from tropical forest soils that decompose litter rapidly with low and fluctuating redox potentials, making it likely that bacteria using oxygen-independent enzymes play an important role in decomposition. We have examined differential expression of the anaerobic isolate Enterobacter lignolyticus SCF1 during growth on lignin. After 48 hours of growth, we used transcriptomics and proteomics to define the enzymes and other regulatory machinery that these organisms use to degrade lignin, as well as metabolomics to measure lignin degradation and monitor the use of lignin and iron as terminal electron acceptors that facilitate more efficient use of carbon. Proteomics revealed accelerated xylose uptake and metabolism under lignin-amended growth, and lignin degradation via the 4-hydroxyphenylacetate degradation pathway, catalase/peroxidase enzymes, and the glutathione biosynthesis and glutathione S-transferase proteins. We also observed increased production of NADH-quinone oxidoreductase, other electron transport chain proteins, and ATP synthase and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. Our data shows the advantages of a multi-omics approach, where incomplete pathways identified by genomics were completed, and new observations made on coping with poor carbon availability. The fast growth, high efficiency and specificity of enzymes employed in bacterial anaerobic litter deconstruction makes these soils useful templates for improving biofuel production.
To understand how cell physiological state affects mRNA translation, we used Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 grown under steady state conditions at either aerobic or suboxic conditions. Using a combination of quantitative proteomics and RNA-Seq, we generated high-confidence data on >1000 mRNA and protein pairs. By using a steady state model, we found that differences in protein-mRNA ratios were primarily caused by differences in the translational efficiency of specific genes. When oxygen levels were lowered, 28% of the proteins showed at least a 2-fold change in expression. Altered transcription levels appeared responsible for 26% of the protein changes, altered translational efficiency appeared responsible for 46% and a combination of both were responsible for the remaining 28%. Changes in translational efficiency were significantly correlated with the codon usage pattern of the genes and measurable tRNA pools changed in response to altered O2 levels. Our results suggest that changes in the translational efficiency of proteins, in part caused by altered tRNA pools, is a major determinant of regulated protein expression in bacteria.
Removal of selenium from groundwater was documented during injection of acetate into a uraniumcontaminated aquifer near Rifle, Colorado (USA). Bioreduction of aqueous selenium to its elemental form (Se0) concentrated it within mineralized biofilms affixed to tubing used to circulate acetate-amended groundwater. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed close association between Se0 precipitates and cell surfaces, with Se0 aggregates having a diameter of 50-60 nm. Accumulation of Se0 within biofilms occurred over a three-week interval at a rate of c. 9 mg Se0m-2 tubing day-1. Removal was inferred to result from the activity of a mixed microbial community within the biofilms capable of coupling acetate oxidation to the reduction of oxygen, nitrate and selenate. Phylogenetic analysis of the biofilm revealed a community dominated by strains of Dechloromonas sp. and Thauera sp., with isolates exhibiting genetic similarity to the latter known to reduce selenate to Se0. Enrichment cultures of selenate-respiring microorganisms were readily established using Rifle site groundwater and acetate, with cultures dominated by strains closely related to D. aromatica (96-99% similarity). Predominance of Dechloromonas sp. in recovered biofilms and enrichments suggests this microorganism may play a role in the removal of selenium oxyanions present in Se-impacted groundwaters and sediments.
The isoprenoid pathway converts pyruvate to isoprene and related isoprenoid compounds in plants and some bacteria. Currently, this pathway is of great interest because of the critical role that isoprenoids play in basic cellular processes as well as the industrial value of metabolites such as isoprene. Although the regulation of several pathway genes has been described, there is a paucity of information regarding the system level regulation and control of the pathway. To address this limitation, we examined Bacillus subtilis grown under multiple conditions and then determined the relationship between altered isoprene production and the pattern of gene expression. We found that terpenoid genes appeared to fall into two distinct subsets with opposing correlations with respect to the amount of isoprene produced. The group whose expression levels positively correlated with isoprene production included dxs, the gene responsible for the commitment step in the pathway, as well as ispD, and two genes that participate in the mevalonate pathway, yhfS and pksG. The subset of terpenoid genes that inversely correlated with isoprene production included ispH, ispF, hepS, uppS, ispE, and dxr. A genome wide partial least squares regression model was created to identify other genes or pathways that contribute to isoprene production. This analysis showed that a subset of 213 regulated genes was sufficient to create a predictive model of isoprene production under different conditions and showed correlations at the transcriptional level. We conclude that gene expression levels alone are sufficiently informative about the metabolic state of a cell that produces increased isoprene and can be used to build a model which accurately predicts production of this secondary metabolite across many simulated environmental conditions.
Rapidly fluctuating environmental conditions can significantly stress organisms, particularly when fluctuations cross thresholds of normal physiological tolerance. Redox potential fluctuations are common in humid tropical soils, and microbial community acclimation or avoidance strategies for survival will in turn shape microbial community diversity and biogeochemistry. To assess the extent to which indigenous bacterial and archaeal communities are adapted to changing in redox potential, soils were incubated under static anoxic, static oxic or fluctuating redox potential conditions, and the standing (DNA-based) and active (RNA-based) communities and biogeochemistry were determined. Fluctuating redox potential conditions permitted simultaneous CO₂ respiration, methanogenesis, N₂O production and iron reduction. Exposure to static anaerobic conditions significantly changed community composition, while 4-day redox potential fluctuations did not. Using RNA: DNA ratios as a measure of activity, 285 taxa were more active under fluctuating than static conditions, compared with three taxa that were more active under static compared with fluctuating conditions. These data suggest an indigenous microbialcommunity adapted to fluctuating redox potential.
In an effort to discover anaerobic bacteria capable of lignin degradation, we isolated “Ente-robacter lignolyticus” SCF1 on minimal media with alkali lignin as the sole source of carbon. This organism was isolated anaerobically from tropical forest soils collected from the Short Cloud Forest site in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, USA, part of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Station. At this site, the soils experience strong fluctuations in redox potential and are net methane producers. Because of its ability to grow on lignin anae-robically, we sequenced the genome. The genome of “E. lignolyticus” SCF1 is 4.81 Mbp with no detected plasmids, and includes a relatively small arsenal of lignocellulolytic carbohy-drate active enzymes. Lignin degradation was observed in culture, and the genome revealed two putative laccases, a putative peroxidase, and a complete 4-hydroxyphenylacetate degra-dation pathway encoded in a single gene cluster.