University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
Faculty Speaker: Justin Donato - University of St. Thomas
Date & Time:
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Dr. Justin Donato of the UST Chemistry Department will give a presentation on his ongoing research titled:
Using and Improving Functional Metagenomics for Gene Discovery
Bacteria play a role in almost all processes at work on the planet. From global warming to feeding the hungry to treating disease, many of the challenges that face us, as well as the potential solutions to these problems, can be traced back to bacteria. Despite their abundance and importance, little is known about the overwhelming majority of bacteria. After all, less than 1% of bacteria, are readily culturable under standard laboratory conditions; leaving the rest of the bacterial community unexplored. However, advances in technology have given researchers the necessary tools to unlock the secrets of the microbial world.
One such technological advance has given rise to a field known as functional metagenomics. Using functional metagenomic techniques, members of my research group have cloned and interrogated libraries composed of thousands of genes from bacterial communities living in a variety of environments to find genes that confer interesting phenotypes on their new bacterial hosts. These discoveries have resulted in two main areas of research in our group. The first set of projects involves the biochemical characterization of interesting enzymes encoded by the genes responsible for conferring interesting phenotypes. The second set of projects is aimed at the discovery of ways to optimize functional metagenomic technologies to facilitate more efficient discovery of new and interesting genes.