Two Bellevue University employees recently made headway with analyzing the genome sequencing of numerous unusual bacterial species.
Over the course of about two months, John Kyndt, associate professor of microbiology, nutrition and sustainability; and Shivangi Dubey, manager of the university’s project management office, partnered together and published a new article featured online in Microbiology Resource Announcements.
The site is an online-only, fully open access journal that publishes articles announcing the availability of any microbiological resource deposited in a repository available to the community, according to the website.
Kyndt said the collaboration between himself and Dubey was unique in the fact that their involvement within the university is quite different. With Shivangi leading project management and Kyndt spending much of his time in the classroom and lab, a professional collaboration like this isn’t something typical, he said.
“She’s not in the science department, but she had an interest in doing science,” Kyndt said. “She came to me and asked if there were any projects that she could get involved with — she wanted to learn new things and find new things to get involved in with science.
“So with not having a science background I figured something like genome sequencing would work well for her because we basically generate data, and then data analysis after that, so you can teach people the tools of data analysis.”
Every cell within a living creature has a genome, Kyndt said, and that genome encodes all of the information which forms and encompasses the cell.
“It has all the information right there for what a cell can and cannot do,” he said. “So let’s say you go into an environment without oxygen — you wouldn’t be able to survive. And that’s because you don’t have the genes or enzymes to help you survive in that.”
Dubey said her interest in working with Kyndt was piqued after reading some of his scientific research involving plants gravitating or repelling from sunlight based on the properties of some of the bacteria occupying the greenery.
Then in August, she noticed a plant wilting in her office; however, she noticed some leaves still alive being drawn to sunlight. This compelled her to read more of Kyndt’s research and ultimately led to the collaboration.
“So it all started with a plant dying in my office,” Dubey said with a laugh.
The particular bacterial genome sequenced, Kyndt said, are extremophiles, meaning they inhabit hostile environments.
“They live in places where there is no oxygen, or really hot or salty environments,” he said. “… We are looking at these things to see how life can exist in extreme environments, and how bacteria can live without oxygen.
“So by looking at the genome we can look at differences between normal bacteria and normal cells, and then extreme cells like these. And in this case, by looking at the genome we found some differences in metabolism, we found they are missing a specific (enzyme) that normally protects them from oxygen … And we found these things by comparing genomes from different bacteria.”
With the first round of analysis complete, Kyndt said the pair is already working on analyzing more unique bacterial genome sequences in hopes of making further revelations. He noted that working with someone without a lengthy science background actually worked well in this situation.
It enabled both to play off of their strong suits and bring something unique to the table.
“Together we were able to find some unique things within the bacteria that were really different from all the other bacteria that we’ve seen out there,” Kyndt said. “And that, of course, was very exciting.”