BranchSquare.jpg (621611 bytes)
banner.JPG (30152 bytes)
  Fall Meeting 2017  
  Spring Meeting 2017
  Past Meetings  
  The Scope (newsletter)  
  MI-ASM Home  
  Officers and Board Members  
  Constitution, By-Laws (pdf)  
  Branch History  


  Corporate Partners  
  Job Postings  
  Student Chapters  
  Student Travel Award  
  National ASM site  


 Abstracts are posted in the order they are received. Winners of "Best Posters", as judged by members of the MI-ASM Board at the meeting, are indicated below.


A.J. Matthews of CMU is the very first recipient of our newly established PHILLIP AND VERA GERHARDT STUDENT TRAVEL AWARD.  Congratulations, A. J.


Central Michigan University  Mount Pleasant, MI (

Fecal contamination of public recreational waters is a growing problem 
around the world.  Bacterial pathogens associated with fecal waste are 
responsible for many intestinal ailments that threaten the health of 
susceptible individuals like young children and seniors.  Although not 
mandatory, some local groups voluntarily monitor water from bathing beaches 
for the abundance of fecal indicators (e.g., Escherichia coli and 
enterococci), which are easier to detect than specific human pathogens.  
Beach sand is not monitored, but may be a region of the beach that harbors 
viable populations of enteric bacteria.  The purpose of this study was to 
test for the presence of enteric bacteria in biofilms developed in a natural 
beach environment.  Glass slides were buried on a private beach on Lake 
Huron and retrieved every two weeks from June to September 2003.  Confocal 
laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) was used to observe the viability of 
bacteria in biofilms that formed on the glass slides.  The presence of a 
specific human pathogen was determined by molecular DNA analysis and 
fluorescent antibodies specific to E .coli 0157.  E. coli 0157 was 
observed in sand biofilms using CLSM.  The presence of viable bacteria and a 
human pathogen in sand biofilms suggests that enteric bacteria are 
persisting and possibly even reproducing in the sand environment where they 
may pose a health threat to beach users.

Toxicity and Effects of Ionic Liquids Upon Three Groundwater Microbial Communities

K.M. Dochertyand C.F. Kulpa
University of Notre Dame, Dept. Biological Sciences

Ionic liquids (ILs) are novel organic salts with a wide liquid range and have
enormous potential for green industrial use.  Their chemical properties, such
as miscibility with water and toxicity can be altered by varying the anions and
cation substituents.  Before their potential release into the environment, it
is crucial to determine their toxicity to aquatic ecosystems, particularly
microbial communities.  This study examines the toxicity of 5 ILs  using a
Microtox Acute Toxicity test.  Toxicity among these ILs depends solely upon the
identity of the cation; the anion does not effect toxicity. Three ionic liquids
were then added in concentrations of 10 ppm, 100 ppm and 1000 ppm to water
samples collected from 2 groundwater wells and 1 agricultural stream to
determine the effect on viable bacterial counts and microbial community changes
using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis.  Only the highest concentration,
1000 ppm, yielded a significant decrease in viable counts compared to the
control, though changes in microbial community banding pattern are seen in some
sites at 100 ppm and 1000 ppm. The stream site microbial communities appear to
be more resistant to change than the 2 well sites.  This may indicate that
certain bacterial groups may be more resistant to high concentrations of ILs,
and possibly capable of degradation, but that their addition to the water
column could change the functional microbial community.


Monica Ponder1,2, Hector Ayala-del-Rio1,2, Peter Bergholz1,2, Patrick Chain3, Genevieve DiBartolo3, Loren Hauser5, Miriam Land5, Frank Larimer5, Paul Richardson4, Michael Thomashow 1,2 and James Tiedje1,2

1NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Center for Genomic and Evolutionary Studies on Microbial Life at Low Temperatures, Michigan State University, East Lansing , MI

2Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing , MI

3Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

4Joint Genome Institute

5Genome Analysis and Systems Modeling Life Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

      The basis for psychroactivity in bacteria is poorly understood.   To gain knowledge of microbial adaptation to low temperature, the genomes of two Siberian permafrost bacteria were sequenced.  Exiguobacterium 255-15, a member of the Firmicutes, and Psychrobacter 273-4, a gamma- Proteobacterium, are both psychroactive and display marked physiological changes under low temperature versus mesophilic growth.  Genes known to be differentially expressed in mesophiles and some psychrotrophs in response to low temperatures are also present in both genomes in addition to stress responsive hypothetical genes.  In order to determine if there is evolutionary evidence of cold adaptation, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of  isocitrate lyase (ICL),  a thermolabile enzyme involved in central metabolism.   Maximum likelihood analysis of the amino acid sequences revealed that Psychrobacter’s ICL clusters with ICLs of microbes that can grow at low temperature but not with those of mesophiles.  This group of sequences possesses characteristic insertions that have been hypothesized as a means of increasing the flexibility of the enzyme, a previously described adaptation to low temperature.   Microarrays consisting of 70-mer oligonucleotides to 1,993 of the 2,056 predicted genes of were constructed.   Preliminary differentenial gene expression analyses at 4°C and 24°C reveal 2-fold or greater upregulation for at the cold temperature for at  least 10 transport associated genes and 9 metabolic genes including a potential amino acid metabolism operon, which has been implicated in compatible solute production in other bacteria.    Gene expression of ribosomal proteins, regulatory proteins, metabolic genes and transporters not upregulated at cold temperatures were upregulated at 24°C.   The different expression patterns of the transport genes support physiological evidence that different carbon sources are utilized at the two temperatures.    Approximately 28% of the predicted ORFS in the two genomes are more than 80% similar in amino acid sequence.  Of these 17 have been demonstrated to be upregulated in Psychrobacter at 4°C and 16 have been demonstrated to be upregulated at 24°C.  



Xiaoyun Qiu
Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI

Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, a gamma proteobacterium, is capable of reducing 
a variety of compounds including U and Cr. However, this bacterium showed 
high sensitivity to UV radiation: a 20% survival rate with a dosage of 4.2 
J/m 2 of UVC. We investigated the DNA repair and damage tolerance mechanisms 
in MR-1 when it is exposed to UVR: UVC (254 nm), UVB (290-320 nm) and UVA 
(320-400 nm). Gene expression profiles were compared using a cDNA array 
containing 95% of MR-1 open reading frames. Briefly, there were about 3, 4.6 
and 7.3 % of genes were up-regulated in response to UVC, UVB and UVA 
respectively. Although the SOS response was observed in all three 
treatments, the induction was most robust in response to UVC. The genes 
involved in protecting cells from oxidative stresses/damages were 
up-regulated in both UVB and UVA treatment. We also observed an increased 
expression level of several genes that are involved in replication of 
prophage MuSo1 and lambdaSo in both UVC and UVB irradiated cells. 
Unexpectedly, we did not observe any inductions in gene expression of 
nucleotide excision repair components (e.g. uvrA, uvrB and uvrD) in either 
treatment. The contribution of photoreactivation and mutagenic repair to 
cell survival were also evaluated. This study will enhance our understanding 
on the survival of MR-1 in its natural habitats as well as improve our 
management when applying it to clean up  contaminated field. 


YopO Localization and Lethality in Yeast

Laura Nejedlik
Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University

Yersinia species use a type III secretion system to deliver at least six effector proteins (Yops H, O, M, E, T, P) into the target cell. We
have developed a new model system using Saccharomyces cerevisiae to
study Yersinia effectors.  We obtained the Yop genes by PCR
amplification from pYV227, the virulence plasmid of Yersinia
.  Each Yop gene was inserted into the yeast expression
vector using Gateway™ Cloning Technology. The effector genes are under
control of a GAL1 promoter, and a URA3 site also allows us to easily
select for our plasmid.  We have used this system to overexpress YopO,
which is lethal to the yeast cell. YopO is a serine-threonine kinase
that causes disruption of actin filaments.  YopO contains three
domains, an actin binding domain, a Rho binding domain and a kinase
region.  Site-directed mutagenesis was used to create two mutant forms
of YopO.  The first mutant K267A changes the Lysine at position 267 to
an Alanine, to disrupt the kinase activity.  However this mutant is
still lethal to the yeast cell. The next mutant I543 replaces the
Isoleucine amino acid at position 543 with a stop codon.  The
resulting prematurely truncated protein does not contain the Rho or
actin binding domain and is not lethal to the yeast cell.   Yeast
containing YopO and K267A mutant cause a loss of actin cables by hour
2.  Actin is still present at hour 8, however it is distributed
diffusely through out the cell.  Yeast containing the I543 mutant are
similar to a yeast strain not expressing YopO.  Using a V5 epitope we
have been able to show both YopO and the K267A mutant localize to the
cell periphery.



Jarrod Breeding, Lindsay Berbiglia, and Dr. Silvia Rossbach, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University

 Metal cations are common in the environment and are utilized by bacteria for metabolic purposes.  However, when concentrations become too high, even essential metals such as zinc and copper can become toxic.  Bacteria had to develop ways to obtain sufficient metal ions to grow while ridding themselves of excess ions before damage can occur to the cell.  We are studying the response of Pseudomonas fluorescens to excess metal ions.  Our analysis uncovered a two-component system that regulates the expression of a RND efflux system.  In order to investigate how P. fluorescens utilizes the efflux system to maintain metal homeostasis, mutants were constructed with insertions in genes encoding a sensor kinase, response regulator, cation/proton antiporter, and outer membrane porin.  The mutants were exposed to various metal concentrations and the internal metal concentrations were determined with ICP-MS.  Through this and other analyses, the data gathered may provide clues as to how P. fluorescens maintains metal homeostasis in metal polluted environments. 



Zarraz Lee, Rossbach S. and Lynn J. C.  Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Sinorhizobium meliloti is a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that is commonly associated with Medicago sativa in a nitrogen-fixing symbiotic relationship. M. sativa, (alfalfa plants)are produced mainly for animal feed in the United States. Because of alfalfa’s ability to improve soil conditions, it would be interesting to make use of this plant for phytoremediation of heavy metals. This study aims to identify genes of Sinorzhobium meliloti that are regulated by heavy metals, specifically cadmium and zinc. We approach this aim by analyzing the gene expression of S. meliloti mutants. These mutants were created via random transposon mutagenesis using a mini-transposon of Tn5 carrying the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene. The anal! ysis of GFP expression on cadmium and zinc exposed S. meliloti mutants showed that three mutants differentially expressed the GFP gene, indicating that the mini-transposon has likely inserted downstream of a metal-regulated promoter. DNA regions flanking the mini-transposon of these mutants have been isolated and are currently being analyzed. At the same time, these mutants are also tested for their sensitivity towards other heavy metal ions, such as copper and nickel. The sensitivity test identified one mutant that is sensitive to all four metals tested in this study. Results from this study will help reveal the homeostatic mechanism that S. meliloti uses to cope with heavy metals.



Christopher Nowell LaRock
Medical Microbiology/Immunology
Lyman Briggs School, Michigan State University, East Lansing M

Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) is one of the most significant causes of 
disease in cattle worldwide, causing a multitude of clinical diseases.  By 
studying the genetic and serological characteristics of BVDV isolates from 
beef and dairy herds that had been vaccinated against BVDV, we can expand 
our pool of data on this disease and better tailor future vaccination 
programs to challenge strains that might arise in the future.  Briefly, 
isolates from cattle meeting study criteria and internal controls were 
subject to strain characterization by genomic sequencing and cross 
neutralization techniques.  Isolates were separated into two groups; one, 
vaccinated in 2000, and the other, vaccinated in 2003 with a different 
vaccine.  In this period, average antibody titer increased significantly for 
BVD of genotype 2, with a more slight increase for genotype 1.  This 
suggests that the second vaccine now contains a BVDV-II strain whereas the 
program in 2000 may not have.  No significant change occurred between 
cytopathic and noncytopathic biotypes. 

winner.gifDevelopment of a Continuous Culture Model to Assess Production of a
                                     Bacteriocin-like Inhibitor by Enterococcus faecium 62-6: Significance to
                                     Bacterial Vaginosis 

Biology Department, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo MI 49006

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal tract infection
presenting in primary health care in the US.  During BV, Lactobacillus
populations which are usually present in healthy women are replaced by a
consortium of organisms including Gardnerella vaginalis and anaerobes.
Currently, factors which initiate the shift in the ecology of the vaginal 
tract resulting in BV are poorly understood.  BV is associated with
sexual activity which provides the opportunity for the introduction of
new organisms into the vagina.  Our laboratory is examining the
hypothesis that bacteria, producing a type of antibiotic known as a
bacteriocin, can inhibit the growth of lactobacilli.  Should they be
introduced into the vagina they could pave the way for the establishment
of the BV-associated microflora.  We have characterized a vaginal strain
of EnterococcusEnterococcus faecium 62-6, that produces a
bacteriocin-like inhibitor antagonistic to the growth of vaginal
lactobacilli.  During growth in batch culture we showed that inhibitor
production was concentration-dependent, requiring minimal concentrations
of strain 62-6 of ca. 7 log10 cfu/ml.  Since growth in continuous culture 
more accurately reflects in vivo conditions than growth in batch, the aim 
of this study was to grow E. faecium 62-6 in a continuous culture model
to assess the significance of inhibitor production in vivo.  Production
of the bacteriocin-like inhibitor was shown to be pH-dependent, being
detected at pH 5.4 but not at pH 5.1.  It was also
concentration-dependent, requiring a minimum concentration of ca. 8 log10 
cfu/ml at pH 5.4.  Should enterococci be found in high concentration in
women with BV, inhibitor-producing strains may prevent the
reestablishment of lactobacilli and the restoration of the healthy
vaginal microflora. 

 winner.gifMolecular Analysis of the Microbial Communities in Geologically
                               Distinct Bogs on Beaver Island

Mike Tjepkema, Christopher Blair, and Dr. Gregorgy Colores
Biology Department, Central Michigan University, Mt Pleasant MI

Glaciers developed the bogs of Beaver Island approximately 11,000
years before present (ybp) and 8,000 ybp, thus leaving a significant
age difference among the respective bogs. This age difference was
the basis for the comparisons between microbial communities in
these bogs. Sampling took place on Egg and Fox Bog. Samples
were analyzed using techniques such as PCR, DGGE, and gene
sequencing to amplify, separate, and analyze bacteria. Initial results
indicate that some bacteria are common to these two bogs yet others
appear to be distinct. Further purification and sequencing of bands is
necessary to develop a more complete microbial characterization of
each bog.

If you have questions about conference posters, email Dr. Rossbach

Questions or suggestions concerning website, contact
Last updated: August 15, 2017