Office of Undergraduate Research

The Mechanisms Responsible for the Eletricity Producing Biofilms formed by Shewanella oneidnsis

The objective of this research project is to identify genes that are involved in biofilm formation in the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis. This bacterium is able to form biofilms on metal oxide surfaces that it uses as electron acceptors during anaerobic respiration. This property also allows cells to transfer electrons to cathode surfaces in microbial fuel cells under anaerobic conditions. The transfer of electrons in microbial fuel cells results in electricity production. We are therefore interested in understanding the mechanisms that govern biofulm formation in an effort to manipulate this bacterium and generate strains that have enhanced electricity production capabilities. The methods to be used in this project include mutagenesis using transposon, DNA amplification using PCR, cloning of genes into expression plasmids, bacterial growth and assay of biofilm production by mutant and wild type strains.

Tasks and responsibilities:

The student will be responsible for: 1. Generating mutants using transposon mutagenesis. 2. Perform enrichment cultures to isolate mutants deficient in biofilm formation. 3. Isolate genomic DNA 4. Clone the transposon-disrupted genes. 5. Use computer programs to analyze the genes that he identifies as involved in biofilm formation. The purified plasmid DNA will be sent out for sequencing.