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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Montana State University
  • William P Inskeep
  • (406) 570-0916
  • Mensur Dlakic
Award Date:03/20/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 286,030
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 286,030
  • FY 2020=$286,030
Start Date:05/01/2020
End Date:04/30/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:OPUS-CRS: Integration of Phylogenomic and Metabolic Analyses to Understand the Biodiversity of Deeply Rooted Microbial Lineages
Federal Award ID Number:1950770
DUNS ID:625447982
Parent DUNS ID:079602596
Program:Systematics & Biodiversity Sci
Program Officer:
  • Francis Moore
  • (703) 292-5376

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Montana State University
Street:LJ Hall
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Microorganisms (single-cell organisms) currently thriving in hot springs of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) are thought to be similar to some of the earliest forms of life on Earth. This project's investigators have previously collected a large amount of data including the gene sequences from numerous different microbial communities at YNP. In this project they will analyze and store genetic information from microorganisms (both archaea and bacteria) that prefer high temperature environments (thermophiles). Many of these organisms have only recently been discovered and their placement in the Tree of Life is not yet clear. This work is important because it will establish genetic relationships among different thermophiles that can be used to infer which of these lineages may have given rise to more complex (multicellular) organisms. In addition, the energic capabilities of these organisms, that do not require sunlight, can provide clues to how some of the first life forms may have used energy from chemical compounds such as sulfide, hydrogen and/or methane. The work will also result in an exhibit within YNP, focused on microbe-mineral interactions in a highly visible hot spring channel containing iron oxide terraces, which will be seen by as many as 0.5 million tourists annually. This synthesis project will utilize data on genomics and metabolic activity of deeply rooted thermophiles to understand their phylogenetic position and metabolic importance in the Tree of Life. The work will curate genomes of numerous deeply rooted thermophilic archaea and bacteria from high temperature habitats in Yellowstone National Park. The data will be used to construct detailed phylogenetic analyses, which are important for understanding the evolution of the currently recognized three domains of life (Archaea, Bacteria, Eukarya). Genomic and transcriptomic data from microbial communities will be used to investigate novel metabolisms that form critical links with geochemical cycles. These links were likely important in the origin of chemosynthetic life forms. The project will integrate phylogenomics, ecophysiology, and geochemistry to understand the evolutionary history and metabolic capabilities of deeply rooted thermophilic microorganisms. Specifically, the synthesis will focus on the role of specific environmental parameters (e.g., oxygen versus sulfide) on the distribution and diversity of thermophilic microorganisms, as well as the distribution of specific proteins necessary for microbial growth under different geochemical circumstances. Curation and analysis of nearly 80 pan-genomes of under-represented and deeply rooted archaea and bacteria has a high probability of transforming our basic understanding of microbial lineages and metabolisms thought to have been important in early life. 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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