Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Integrative Sciences - Biological Chemistry

First Advisor

Catherine T. Santai

Abstract

The current increase of average global temperature puts 25 to 35 percent of plant and animal species at an increased risk of extinction (Climate Change, 2018). Changing any environmental factor, such as increasing growth temperature, can significantly impact any organisms’ ability to survive. Because of the diversity of organisms on the planet, it is not feasible to study how each individually might adapt, but rather it is more efficient to study select organisms. This research focuses on a psychrophilic bacterium, Psychromonas aquimarina, which can survive in colder regions where most bacteria would not. This bacterium was chosen because climate change is affecting the poles of Earth two times the rate that it is affecting other parts of Earth. Psychromonas aquimarina first needed to be characterized, as little was known about the bacterium. P. aquimarina was confirmed to have previous characteristics described, but many characteristics were discovered throughout this research. We report for the first time, the doubling time of Psychromonas aquimarina, 21.05 hours, the ability of P. aquimarina to form a pellicle biofilm, formed between air-liquid interface, and its potential to aid in adaptation to thermal stress. Psychromonas aquimarina in growth and protein expression studies, at various temperatures, was found to exhibit slow but significant tolerance and adaptability. Heat shock protein expression in cold tolerant organisms provide insight to the mechanisms in charge of thermotolerance. P. aquimarina is proposed as a model organism for studies of adaptation to thermal stress imposed by climate change.

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