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Murray Lab Antarctic Bacterial Zoo

During field seasons in 2001 and 2002 at Palmer Station we isolated a variety of planktonic and ice-affiliated microorganisms from the coastal waters of Anvers Island. Most of the organisms in the zoo are affiliated with the gamma branch of the proteobacteria (the most commonly cultured group of marine heterotrophic bacteria), however the content of the library is decidedly polar in nature.

As a microbial ecologist, many of us are interested in developing a better understanding of which groups of the organisms out there are really doing the work - which ones have a significant impact on the organic carbon cycling etc. Even though we know that there are many limitations to culturing (we can cultivate 0.01 -0.1 % of the total organisms from seawater samples), it is in our best interest to have an idea of what component of the bacteria are cultivable (in comparison to the molecular diversity studies that we are conducting concurrently). The microbes in the zoo will be used in technology development work with DNA microarrays, since they can provide a consistent source of mRNA to work with. Their RNA can be used in optimization studies, to study cross hybridization between similar microbes, and in experiments to look for the induction of gene expression following changing conditions the organism is exposed to (lowering/raising temperature, or varying carbon source etc).

Cultivars, 3 X purified have been characterized initially by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to determine the rDNA-associated diversity, then rDNA genes for those strains displaying unique band patterns have been sequenced, and cataloged by phylogenetic affiliation in the Zoo directory.*

*Note: The Zoo directory is a large table (1000 pixels wide x 696 pixels high).

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