Next generation sequencing of extremophiles: determining the biological phenotype of Deinococcus radiodurans


In the age of space exploration, humans have ventured forth to explore the cosmos, but they are not the only passengers on this voyage. With the creation of human settlements in space, there is a need to easily and quickly sequence the DNA of organisms. This would be useful when searching for extraterrestrial life or investigating pathogens. One technology that can be used for this is the assortment of products created by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. This technology (MInION) is small enough that it can fit in a pocket, and unlike short read next-generation sequencers, can provide long DNA reads up to 2 megabases. The portability of this technology makes it ideal for use in space laboratories and on unmanned vehicles. We used MinION to sequence the bacterial genome of Escherichia coli, which is comprised of 4.6 million DNA base pairs. We have begun to analyze complex mixtures of organisms from environmental samples through metagenomics. Currently, we have used MinION to sequence the genome of Deinococcus radiodurans, an extremophile that is highly resistant to radiation. This genome is comprised of 3.3 million base pairs and has a G+C content of 66.3%, which may provide unusual DNA thermostability in extreme environmental conditions.


Name: Cora Lyon, Undergraduate Student

Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage

Major: Microbiology and Health Sciences

Mentor: Eric Bortz,

Award: Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2020 to 2021