BU Professor Part of Team That Defines New Bacterial Family
Repost from BU Newsroom story by Cris Hay-Merchant
Bellevue University Associate Professor John Kyndt collaborated with researchers at the University of Arizona and at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, and the team recently published a paper in Microorganisms defining the Halorhodospiraceae bacterial family.
“Being able to define a new bacterial family is like discovering a new breed of animal,” explained Dr. Kyndt, an Associate Professor of Microbiology, Nutrition and Sustainability. “It doesn’t happen a lot,” he said. The bacterial family the team classified – extremely halophilic, purple sulfur bacteria, to be specific – was first discovered in a sample of water from Summer Lake in Oregon state, but many members are found in African and Mongolian soda lakes.
The new bacterial family has potential use in industrial applications, Dr. Kyndt said. Enzymes from extremophilic bacteria play an important role in industrial processes, because they are stable at high temperature or extreme conditions that are used to produce and purify materials. For example, extremophilic enzymes are used in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, or textile or paper processing.
“Being able to define a new bacterial family is like discovering a new breed of animal.”
Dr. John Kyndt, Associate Professor
Dr. Kyndt’s primary role in the research involved mapping and sequencing the genomes of the bacterial family. Sequencing the genomes is an essential part of building the bacterial family’s taxonomy. Bacterial taxonomy is used to classify different types of bacteria on the basis of their mutual similarity or evolutionary relatedness.
The research team was able to distinguish the new bacterial family from other bacterial families. According to Dr. Kyndt, the team’s work sets an important foundation for future research related to sustainable industrial processes.