Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Yale undergrads' Amazon trip yields a treasure trove of diversity

26.08.2008
A group of Yale undergraduates have discovered dozens of potentially beneficial bioactive microorganisms within plants they collected in the Amazon rain forest, including several so genetically distinct that they may be the first members of new taxonomical genera.

The analysis of 135 endophytes - fungal and bacterial microorganisms living within the inner tissue of plants - by members of the Rain Forest Expedition and Laboratory course at Yale will be published Monday in the journal PLoS ONE.

The endophytes were collected during a 2007 trip to Peru organized by Scott Strobel, chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The ability of 15 untrained students to find and culture such a novel collection of organisms, many of which are biologically active, illustrates the vast scientific potential of tropical areas, Strobel said.

"The sheer amount of diversity the students discovered surprised everybody,'' Strobel said. "We have only just begun to tap the potential of these microorganisms. Our undergraduates have given us a peek at the treasure these habitats hold and we need to move quickly to preserve them."

The students collected the specimens in March of 2007 and spent much of the next six months isolating and culturing the organisms, sequencing their DNA, and screening them for biological activity. Nearly half of the organisms analyzed showed evidence of bioactivity.

Endophytes remain relatively unstudied by scientists, however their potential value was illustrated more than a decade ago when the blockbuster cancer drug taxol was isolated from a fungal endophyte collected from a Pacific Yew tree.

Already, the Yale undergraduates have found at least two endophytes with some therapeutic potential. Undergraduate Cong "Carl" Ma, working in collaboration with recent graduate Puyao Li, found one fungal endophtye with anti-oxidant properties.

Yale undergraduate Sun Jin Lee discovered that an extract from a second fungal endophtye reduces inflammation in human tissue. A subsequent analysis of the molecule revealed it to be an inhibitor of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

In addition, the endophyte studied by Lee was one of 10 that varied by 15 to 30 percent from any sequence of DNA stored in GenBank, the virtual repository of genetic sequences of organisms. Such a difference is sufficient to classify the micro-organism in an entirely novel genus.

"The diversity we found blew everyone away,'' Lee said.

Strobel said that a second Yale expedition conducted last March in Ecuador has yielded just as diverse a collection of bioactive endophytes as the 2007 effort.

"Clearly the inner tissues of plants are a biological niche for microbial life that warrants further exploration," Strobel said. "It is a niche that can be readily explored by undergraduate students. The potential to explore something so completely unknown gets the students very excited about science."

Bill Hathaway | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>