UMass Boston News

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Richard Baran, Project Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Event Date: February 28, 2014 - 10 a.m.
Event Type: Open to public
Location: Science Center, Chemistry Conference Room (Science S01-0089)

University of Massachusetts Boston

Department of Chemistry

Faculty Candidate Seminar

Mapping Microbial Metabolism and Metabolic Interactions Using Metabolomics

Dr. Richard Baran

Project Scientist

Northen Laboratory, Life Sciences Division

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley, CA

Friday, February 28, 2014 | 11:00 AM

Chemistry Conference Room (Science S01-0089)

Microorganisms exhibit complex metabolism and metabolic interactions with their environments, large parts of which remain unknown. Advances in mapping microbial metabolism are critical for the re-engineering of microbes for biotechnological applications, understanding of global biogeochemical cycles, and the discovery of novel bioactive compounds. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics enables the detection of a broad range of compounds in complex samples and has emerged as a powerful tool for microbial functional genomics. Unfortunately, identification of novel metabolites from mass spectral features remains challenging. We have developed novel computational and experimental workflows using liquid chromatrography-mass spectrometry to profile cellular metabolites in different bacteria as well as to profile the uptake and release of a wide array of compounds from complex growth media. A number of unexpected metabolites were detected (not predicted based on genome annotation or absent from databases of metabolism) along with broader than expected capabilities for metabolite utilization in studied bacteria. To link unexpected metabolic capabilities to specific genes, we screened libraries of thousands of bacterial mutants for defects in utilization of selected metabolites. Using this approach, biochemical functions were assigned to genes of putative transport proteins and enzymes. Most recently, we used metabolite profiling to map metabolic interactions among key bacteria from biological soil crusts – microorganism dominated communities in the top levels of soil in arid environments. Overall, these approaches increase the discovery rate of novel metabolites and metabolic capabilities and facilitate the tracing of carbon flow in microbial communities.

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit www.ada.umb.edu two weeks prior to the event.