International team led by UH researchers reveals genetic blueprint of a new microbial species from Loʻihi hydrothermal vent

University of Hawaiʻi
Maqsudul Alam, (808) 956-8121
UH Manoa Department of Microbiology
Posted: Dec 14, 2004

An international research team that includes researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) has published its research on a genetic blueprint of the newly discovered microbial species Idiomarina loʻihiensis isolated from the Loʻihi deep-sea volcano. This discovery is included in the December 13-17, 2004 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States. The team is led by Professor Maqsudul Alam, Department of Microbiology of the UH-Manoa College of Natural Sciences

Dr. Shaobin Hou, leader of Genome Group of the UH Center for Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics Research Initiative (CGPBRI), produced the exceptionally high quality sequence data covering the 2,839,318 "letters" of the genome. A team of bioinformaticians from UH, MHPCC and NIH analyzed the genomic blueprint for this new species and discovered that Idiomarina loihiensis maintains a novel mechanism for metabolic adaptation. Its versatile signal transducer system senses dynamic changes in dissolved oxygen, temperature and pressure, and synthesizes highly viscous exopolysaccharide for attachment to proteinaceous particles. Once settled, it secretes diverse proteases to breakdown proteins and uses the degradation products for survival.

Dr. Eugene Koonin and Dr. Michael Galperin, renowned experts in computational genomics at the National Center of Biotechnology Information, NIH, explained that, "the genome of this new species demonstrates a flexible adaptation mechanism, which is required for the constantly changing deep-sea hydrothermal vent environment. We are happy to be part of this discovery in collaboration with CGPBRI."

Dr. Alexander Malahoff, co-author of the PNAS paper and director of UH Undersea Research Laboratory, and CEO of New Zealand Crown Research Institute GNS, explains that, "this is a great example of how an international multidisciplinary team of engineers, microbiologists and bioinformaticians can address a complex microbial ecosystem of the Loʻihi hydrothermal vent."

UH Manoa chancellor Peter Englert said,"Our investment in cutting-edge research in genomics and bioinformatics in collaboration with the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) is starting to bear its initial fruits. This proves that UH can be a leader in this emerging field."

According to Gene Bal, Director of MHPCC,"This is exciting news for MHPCC and UH, and it confirms the vital role of high performance computing in cutting—edge bio-tech research."

Dr. Greg Mogel, Director of the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center‘s West Coast Field Office TATRC-West), a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command adds, "This type of discovery certainly brings Maui‘s HPCC into the 21st Century in biomedical computing, and TATRC is proud to be working with the UH CGPBRI for its Computational Proteomics Program at MHPCC".

The international research team is hopeful that their continued research efforts will lead to other exciting discoveries, especially in novel antibiotics and enzymes.

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