CBCB Seminar

February 13, 2023 3:30 PM

Ammon-Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation (BPI) Building
Conference Room 140

The Delaware Microbiome Project

Alexa Bennett

Ph.D. candidate, Bioinformatics Data Sciences, UD

The Delaware Microbiome Project (DMP) aims to characterize environmentally relevant microbial communities within Delaware’s waters, sediments, and soils. Uncovering the diversity and functionality of microbial life is crucial because they drive the fluxes of the elements essential to life on Earth. A high-throughput and cost-effective method for probing a microbial community structure is amplifying and sequencing phylogenetic marker genes. However, due to horizontal gene transfer, highly conserved phylogenetic marker genes do not tightly correlate with microbial functionality. Alexa’s project develops a complete and optimized workflow for amplifying and sequencing taxonomic and functional genes simultaneously. The amplification products target microbial community functionality in biogeochemical cycles (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, and arsenic) in addition to prokaryotic and eukaryotic phylogenetic genes. The workflow optimized within this project reduced stochastic error by treating all sample collection and extraction equally and integrating liquid handling robotics, including an automated workflow for data analysis.

Alexa Bennett is a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics Data Science. She conducts her research project under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hanson from the School of Marine Science and Policy. She obtained a Biological Sciences A.A.S., concentration in Biotechnology, from Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) and a Marine Science B.S., concentration in Marine Biology with a minor in Biochemistry, from the University of Delaware (UD). Her current research is focused on Project WiCCED, Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware, Microbiome Core, specifically the Delaware Microbiome Project.