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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
BioTechnology Institute

PI: Jeffrey A. Gralnick

Genetics, Genomics, Physiology, and Biotechnology of Bacteria From the Soudan Iron Mine

Twenty-seven levels down the Soudan Iron Mine lies an ancient environment geochemists think may be analogous to conditions on Mars. Water flowing from exploratory boreholes is void of oxygen, rich in iron and calcium, and twice as salty as seawater. The iron-rich rocks from this level date back 2.8 billion years. Using DNA sequence analysis, six bacterial strains isolated from this environment were determined to be of the genus Marinobacter. These microbes are typically found throughout the water column and sediments in the world’s oceans. These researchers are studying the metabolism of these bacteria, which may help them determine whether these strains are survivors of an ancient ocean, or merely contamination from the boots of mineworkers or exploring scientists. This work will lead to a better understanding of how microbial life can survive and thrive in deep underground environments on earth and possibly beyond.

Group Members

Mike Donald, Undergraduate Student
Ryan Lesniewski, Undergraduate Student
Indraneel Shikhare, Graduate Student
Kerry Sokol, Research Associate