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Joshua Ohair

Speaker for catalysis 2017 - Joshua Ohair

Title: Genomic Bioprospecting of Cellulolytic Thermophiles Isolated from Yellowstone National Park

Joshua Ohair

Tennessee State University, USA


After graduating in 2012 from the University of Central Florida in Molecular and Microbiology with a Bachelor of Science, I continued my education at Tennessee State University where in 2014 I graduated with a Masters in Biology. Currently as a doctoral candidate at Tennessee State University my current dissertation is to sample cellulolytic microbes from Yellowstone National Park in order to sequence and isolate novel genes/proteins to aid in biofuel production. 


As the first National Park, Yellowstone has been the focal point of research to determine the microbial biome of hydrothermal features, however, with regards to lignocellulolytic organisms there is room for research to expand. Novel thermophilic lignin and cellulose degrading bacteria/fungi have been targeted with means of sequencing genomic data. It is predicted that the isolation of a new strain or enzyme with the ability to ferment cellulose/lignin at high temperatures, will be a valuable asset to the biofuel research industry. Through a non-invasive approach 50ml water samples were removed from geysers, fumaroles, and heated streams along vegetative borders ranging in temperatures of 45-75°C. From this, 5 isolates tested positive for cellulolytic activity per Congo red assay. The Genomic DNA was extracted and whole genome sequencing was performed through Illumina next-generation sequencing (NGS) Hiseq 3000. All 5 cellulolytic microbial strains were classified as either Bacillus licheniformis or Bacillus altitudinis. Automated annotation through the NCBI Prokaryotic Genome Annotation Pipeline (PGAP, version 3.3) also predicted several novel endoglucanase, beta-cellobiosidase, exo-1, 4-beta-glucosidase, and beta-xylosidase genes whose potential has yet to be determined. It is the hope that through this type of research second generation biofuel industries will gain insight into future production strategies.