Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Erik Hom

Second Advisor

Peter Zee

Third Advisor

Patrick Curtis

Relational Format



Microbial Communities are of interest to molecular biologists hoping to understand the nature of metabolic interactions between co-existing, or possibly mutualistic, organisms. These interactions are ubiquitous in nature, but understanding the molecular mechanisms involved remains challenging and not well understood. Here, we design three tri-partite microbial circuits based on possible interactions among involved microbes, which are discussed and may suggest mutualistic interactions. Carbon and nitrogen molecular pathways and the intracellular metabolism of each microbe is discussed. We present minimal growth media that will ensure that organisms utilize available resources, which may originate from metabolic processes in neighboring microbes, simulating a natural environment that has limited usable carbon and nitrogen sources. The candidate microbes discussed represent an array of genera including, but not limited to the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the filamentous fungi Aspergillus nidulans, and a unique strain of methylobacterium. Each of their genomes are previously sequenced and 16S and 18S ribosomal subunit rDNA analyzed for conserved regions between organisms; however, only some were used to create interacting circuits based on their metabolic networks. We anticipate that through the use of biotechnology like Multiple Sequence Alignment (MSA) and primer design, we will be able to identify which organisms would persist through many serial transfers in an active microbial community. Each candidate organism’s 16S and 18S rDNA sequence differed sufficiently enough to be effectively differentiated from the other organisms using specifically designed primers for a series of Polymerase Chain Reactions and subsequent Sanger Sequencing.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Available for download on Saturday, April 27, 2024