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Otterbein Microbiology students present research and network with professionals

Otterbein Microbiology students present research and network with professionals

This spring, Otterbein hosted the Ohio Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology on campus. This year was the largest meeting in the Branch history with over 180 registered participants and 68 student presentations, including three Otterbein seniors who graduated soon after. 

Associate Professor Jennifer Bennett is the vice president for the branch and the adviser for the new Otterbein Student Chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, which helped in hosting the meeting.  

“The Ohio Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology encompasses the entire state of Ohio which has a wealth of universities and industry involved in cutting edge microbiology research,” explained Bennett. “It provides an opportunity for all attendees to exchange information about the latest microbiology research and network with other scientists, including prominent principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates.”

The meeting also presents a unique opportunity for student researchers. “Undergraduate students have an opportunity to present their research and receive feedback in addition to learning from other researchers,” said Bennett.

Bennett oversaw the student researchers, who conducted their research in her lab. She explained the work of the three senior presenters:

Garrett Kandell
“Characterization of Cyclic di-GMP Regulation in Streptomyces” 
“Garrett tied up research on a new gene that we have discovered and deleted in two different species of Streptomyces. Streptomyces species are soil bacteria that are known for the numerous antibiotics that they produce as well as other drugs such as anti-tumor, anti-HIV and anti-parasitic drugs.”

Grant Snow
“Identification of a Putative Cyclic di-GMP Binding Protein in Streptomyces 
“In Grant's project, he helped pioneer a series of experiments that we have never done in the Bennett lab. He captured proteins that bind to the small signaling molecule called cyclic di-GMP and then we worked with the Proteomics Core Facility at The Ohio State University to identify the proteins that we captured using biochemistry and analytical chemistry followed by bioinformatics (computer science applied to a biological research question). He identified new proteins that bind cyclic di-GMP for Streptomyces coelicolor (the most well-characterized and model species) and Streptomyces scabiei which causes common scab disease in potatoes.”

Will King
“Phosphodiesterase Sco5218 in Streptomyces coelicolor
Will continued research that was begun by Breanna Brown who graduated from Otterbein last year and now works on cyclic di-GMP signaling in Listeria (an important disease-causing bacteria for humans and animals) at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Will finished constructing a mutant for a gene believed to degrade the signaling molecule cyclic di-GMP and combined this mutation with a mutation in another gene also believed to produce an enzyme that degrades cyclic di-GMP.”

“All three students have projects that further our knowledge of how bacteria respond to their environment by sensing a primary signal that binds to the outside of the cell and then the bacteria produces a second messenger inside the cell that amplifies the original signal and allows the bacteria to change gene expression to elicit a response to its environment,” said Bennett. “In Streptomyces species this change in response includes progression through the bacterial life cycle and the production of important antibiotics. Each student has their own challenging, independent research project that addresses a different aspect of bacterial signaling.”

All three presenters were Otterbein Student Research Fund award winners and had Otterbein Biology and Earth Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships. Snow and Kandell also received the Bert and Jane Horn Endowed Student Research Fund in the Sciences for their projects.  


Learn more about the meeting. http://ohiobranchasm.org/meetings