1900390 Catalyst Award: Exploring Free Living Nematode Microbiome through Marker Gene-Based and Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing of Single Nematodes

1900390

Catalyst Projects provide support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to work towards establishing research capacity of faculty to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics undergraduate education and research. It is expected that the award will further the faculty member's research capability, improve research and teaching at the institution, and involve undergraduate students in research experiences. This project at Elizabeth City State University will investigate the specific associations between nematodes and prokaryote communities in freshwater and marine ecological sites using marker gene-based and shotgun metagenomics sequencing. The project will introduce underrepresented minority students to molecular techniques, while preparing them for graduate school or entry into the STEM workforce.<br/><br/>Complex biological processes are carried out through interactions of biotic and abiotic components. Nematodes are ubiquitous and arguably the most diverse and numerically dominant component of the meiofauna. Their close association with the most diverse group, the prokaryotes, would play a critical role in sediment ecological processes, however, this remains largely unexplored. The goal of the project is to employ a tiered approach to investigate this association and its ecological implications in 15 nematode taxa. An initial, phylogenetically informative marker gene-based characterization will be followed by shotgun metagenomic sequence-based functional analysis. Shotgun sequence data of nematodes & associated microbial communities will be used to predict community functional potential using gene and gene family functionality of recognized associations through putative metabolite profiles. This will be in the framework of inter- and intraspecific genetic variations and community ecological relevance in freshwater and marine environments.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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