1. Genetic Studies of a Hyperthermophilic Archaeon

    Lead author, Changyi Zhang, collecting samples in September 2014 at a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. Image credit: Zhang et a. (2016)/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Lead author, Changyi Zhang, collecting samples in September 2014 at a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

    Scientists from Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology have identified a new genetic marker (the apt gene) in a species of archaea named Sulfolobus islandicus. S. islandicus is a hyperthermophilic member of the phylum Crenarchaeota, and can be found in environments like volcanic springs with temperatures up to 91°C. Currently, S. islandicus is rapidly developing as a model for studying archaeal biology as well as linking novel biology to evolutionary ecology using functional population genomics.

    Previously, only one similar genetic marker (the pyrEF gene) was known for Sulfolobus species. However, the majority of Sulfolobus mutants that have been constructed in the laboratory were derived from genetic hosts lacking the pyrEF gene, making it impossible to use these strains in further mutation studies. The new apt genetic marker addresses this problem and will greatly facilitate researchers to study mutation profiles in the previously constructed mutants of S. islandicus.

    The study, “The apt/6-Methylpurine Counterselection System and Its Applications in Genetic Studies of the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus islandicus,” was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The research was supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.

    Source: [Applied and Environmental Microbiology]