UMR students to present research at regional microbiology conference

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On March 31, 2006

Five students from the University of Missouri-Rolla are among 28 undergraduate and graduate students who will present their research at a regional microbiology conference in April.

The Joint Annual Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Missouri and Missouri Valley Branches and Midwest Microbiology Educators Conference will be held April 7-8 in Kansas City, Mo.

During the conference, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty scholars, will showcase their research findings in concurrent scientific sessions. The program also features a research symposium and a lecture by a distinguished Waksman Foundation speaker.

Below is a list of participating students from UMR with a description of their research projects.

Audrey Oakley, a junior in biological sciences from Rolla, Mo., isolated bacteria from Soap Lake, Wash., that are tolerant of high concentrations of salt and can grow at a wide range of pH values from neutral to alkaline. She has used these bacteria to study the effect of pH on antibiotic resistance, testing the response of the bacteria to two antibiotics that are commonly used in orchard agriculture and two antibiotics that are commonly used to treat human diseases. She found that resistance did depend on the pH for some antibiotics but not for others.

Shitalben Patel, a graduate student in applied and environmental biology from Rolla, Mo., isolated a new genus of bacteria from Soap Lake, Wash., that is capable of using iron to breathe. This bacterium can be used to help researchers understand how iron is cycled in this environment and might be useful for the bioremediation of metal-contaminated environments.

Bo-young Hong, a graduate student in applied and environmental biology from Rolla, Mo., sampled a number of hypersaline lakes in Western Australia and Victoria, Australia, and has found a large diversity of bacteria. Because most of these lakes are acidic and very salty, they can give researchers a possible analogy for conditions that might have existed once on Mars.

Stacy Story, a graduate student in geology and geophysics from Durango, Colo., has been studying the pollen and algal spores that has become trapped in the sediments and salt crystals that were sampled from the hypersaline lakes of Australia. These microscopic particles can be used to help reconstruct the history of the environment around these lakes.

Sangeetha Ramamurthy, a graduate student in applied and environmental biology from Bangalore, India, is studying the toxicity on bacteria of vapors formed when mineral and biogenic oils are heated between 350-600 degrees Celsius. She has found that these vapors inhibit the growth of bacteria and could potentially be used as antimicrobial agents.

The conference is hosted by the University of Missouri-Rolla, the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and Oklahoma State University. Dr. Melanie Mormile, associate professor of biological sciences at UMR, is a member of the program planning committee and president of the Missouri Branch of ASM. Oakley, Patel and Hong are researchers in her laboratory.

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On March 31, 2006. Posted in Research