Donald Martocello, 2018, Geosciences

The nature of siderophores, molecules with a high affinity for iron released by many bacteria, is of particular interest to the Morel Group. In order to study siderophores, a defined medium where metal concentrations (especially iron) are controlled to reduce background metal contamination is necessary. I spent this past summer researching, experimentally designing, and refining an ideal cell culture medium to grow V. harveyi (a major tropical water pathogen and model organism) so that trace metal studies could be performed. To accomplish this, I explored V. harveyi’s genomic data regarding amino acid biosynthesis, measured V. harveyi’s experimental responses to different nitrogen sources, and synthesized experimental data about the ideal combinations of amino acids within the medium to obtain a comparable growth rate and yield relative to undefined commercial media. This internship has had a lasting impact on me as I plan to continue researching with the Department of Geosciences in order to refine my methods and the medium throughout my junior year, so that other researchers and I can continue to experimentally explore questions related to trace metals and bacteria using V. harveyi.