Taylor Gierke

UC Santa Barbara
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Analyzing the Stability of Native and Nonnative Microbial Communities

Microbes found in the gut of herbivores possess great potential for bioprocessing applications. Notable microbes are species of fungi and methanogens, which can be used to break down waste. Additionally, the production of methane by methanogens can be harnessed as a source of renewable energy. Further investigation is needed to understand what aspects of these microbial communities cause temporal stability. In this study, a bottom-up approach will be used to create a nonnative fungus-methanogen pairing, and top-down enrichment will be used to form a native community that will be further recombined. The members of the communities will be identified using genomic analysis. Methane and hydrogen production, substrate deconstruction, and shared metabolites will be measured on multiple substrates. It is hypothesized that the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or more strains of fungi and methanogens will contribute to improved fungus methanogen interactions and increased temporal stability of a community due to functional redundancy. This study will aim to better understand the interactions between the communities that lead to temporal stability.

UC Santa Barbara Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships UCSB California NanoSystems Institute