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See detailAntarctic cyanobacterial diversity: how important are the geographical and ecological factors?
De Carvalho Maalouf, Pedro ULg; Lambion, Alexandre ULg; Gillard, Benjamin et al

Conference (2012, October 31)

On the Antarctic continent, cyanobacteria produce conspicuous benthic microbial mats in lakes, from the coastal regions to the mountains (till 84°S). However, little is known about theirl biodiversity in ... [more ▼]

On the Antarctic continent, cyanobacteria produce conspicuous benthic microbial mats in lakes, from the coastal regions to the mountains (till 84°S). However, little is known about theirl biodiversity in comparison with other regions of the world. The BelSPO project AMBIO aimed to test whether (i) microbial communities are structured by the same factors as those shaping communities of macroorganisms, and (ii) endemism among cyanobacteria does exist. We have analyzed the cyanobacterial biodiversity in a variety of aquatic habitats from the three main biogeographical regions (Continental, Maritime Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic) and determined the ‘baseline’ data needed to understand the contribution of various processes that are responsible for the distribution patterns. [less ▲]

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See detailElucidation of the gas vesicle gene clusters in cyanobacteria of the genus Arthrospira (Oscillatoriales, Cyanophyta) and correlation with ITS phylogeny
Miklaszewska, Magdalena; Waleron, Malgorzata; Morin, Nicolas et al

in European Journal of Phycology (2012), 47

The genus Arthrospira comprises filamentous cyanobacteria in which the trichomes form an open helix and contain gas vacuoles. The gas vesicle gene cluster of five Arthrospira strains was amplified by PCR ... [more ▼]

The genus Arthrospira comprises filamentous cyanobacteria in which the trichomes form an open helix and contain gas vacuoles. The gas vesicle gene cluster of five Arthrospira strains was amplified by PCR and sequenced. The genes are organized in one operon, in the order gvpA1–gvpC1–gvpA2–gvpC2–gvpA3–gvpC3–gvpN. In Arthrospira sp. strain PCC 8005, the genes gvpJ, gvpK, gvpV and gvpW were also identified. Each of the three copies of gvpA encodes a protein of 71 amino acids. In the case of gvpC, there are two different length variants. Each of the two shorter genes, gvpC1 and gvpC2, encodes a putative protein of 151 amino acids, while the longer one, gvpC3, codes for a putative protein of 284 residues. The amino acid sequences of GvpC1 and GvpC2 are identical to the N-terminal part of GvpC3. In spite of the presence of stop codons downstream of gvpC1 and gvpC2, the deduced amino acid sequences in these regions are highly similar to the C-terminal part of GvpC3 (residues 160 to 229). The GvpC1, GvpC2 and GvpC3 proteins contain contiguous repeats of 33 amino acids as previously reported for other cyanobacteria. The sequences of the gvpA1, gvpC1, gvpA2 and gvpC2 genes were not found in the genome data of Arthrospira sp. PCC 8005, A. maxima CS-328, and A. platensis NIES-39 as a result of incomplete assembly. The genes gvpN and gvpJ located downstream of gvpC3, encode putative proteins of 394 and 127 amino acids, respectively. The deduced amino acid sequences of gvpK, gvpV and gvpW contain 151, 112 and 227 residues, respectively. The analysis of gvp sequences of five strains of Arthrospira revealed the presence of polymorphic positions, which distinguished the strains in agreement with their previous assignments to ITS clusters I and II. This is the first report of gvp genes in members of the genus Arthrospira. [less ▲]

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See detailAntarctic Microbial BIOdiversity : the importance of geographical versus ecological factors
Obbels, Dagmar; De Carvalho Maalouf, Pedro ULg; De Wever, Aaike et al

Poster (2012, July)

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See detailAntarctic Microbial BIOdiversity : the importance of geographical versus ecological factors
Obbels, Dagmar; De Carvalho Maalouf, Pedro ULg; De Wever, Aaike et al

Poster (2012, July)

Antarctica is a prime region to test whether microbes have a biogeography and to study their metacommunity dynamics, because (i) it is isolated from the other continents, (ii) its extreme environmental ... [more ▼]

Antarctica is a prime region to test whether microbes have a biogeography and to study their metacommunity dynamics, because (i) it is isolated from the other continents, (ii) its extreme environmental conditions allow microorganisms to dominate its ecosystems, and (iii) lacustrine and terrestrial habitats occur isolated in a matrix of ice and ocean. We compiled a large set of samples from benthic microbial mats from Antarctic lakes in different ice-free regions and used a polyphasic approach to study their microbial biodiversity by combining morphological characterization of diatoms with molecular techniques such as Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (green algae and cyanobacteria), 454 pyrosequencing and cultivation (prokaryotes). [less ▲]

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See detailClimate change simulation in continental Antarctica using Open-Top Chambers
Mano, Marie-José ULg; Namsaraev, Zorigto; Gorodetskaya, Irina et al

Poster (2012, July)

In continental Antarctica, the environnmental conditions are extreme and only microbial organisms can withstand them. Currently, the majority of OTCs experiments are being held in Maritime Antarctica but ... [more ▼]

In continental Antarctica, the environnmental conditions are extreme and only microbial organisms can withstand them. Currently, the majority of OTCs experiments are being held in Maritime Antarctica but it would be interesting to have such data for the continental part of Eastern Antarctica. To monitor the response of the microbial communities to local simulations of climate change, 8 Open-Top Chambers (OTC) were installed close to the Princess Elisabeth station, in the Sor Rondane Mountains in January 2010. They are located on the Utsteinen ridge, the Tanngarden granite outcrop, the Teltet nunatak and the fourth nunatak of the Pingvinane range. In each location, two OTCs and a control area were established. Temperature and humidity loggers were installed inside the OTCs and outside, in the control areas, to estimate the environmental changes induced by the OTCs. [less ▲]

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See detailOut of sight, out of mind ? Diversity of microscopic organisms as an overlooked criterion for conservation purposes
Mano, Marie-José ULg; De Carvalho, Pedro; Verleyen, Elie et al

Conference (2012, July)

The network of ASPAs (Antarctic Specially Protected Areas) that is presently under construction in the frame of the Committee for Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty is intended to protect ... [more ▼]

The network of ASPAs (Antarctic Specially Protected Areas) that is presently under construction in the frame of the Committee for Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty is intended to protect "outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness values, any combination of those values, or ongoing or planned scientific research" (http://www.ats.aq/e/ep_protected.htm). When the Madrid Protocol was signed, twenty-one years ago, the knowledge on the biodiversity of tiny and microscopic organisms was much less extensive and molecular methods for biodiversity assessments were only in their infancy. The majority of the permanent inhabitants of Antarctica are, however, essentially microscopic. [less ▲]

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See detailDiversity of the cyanobacterial communities from the Sør Rondane Mountains (Eastern Antarctica)
Mano, Marie-José ULg; Namsaraev, Zorigto; Fernandez, Rafael et al

Poster (2012, July)

The new Belgian “Princess Elisabeth” research station was built in 2009 and is located 200 km inland in the Western part of the Sør Rondane Mountains (Eastern Antarctica). The BELSPO projects ANTAR-IMPACT ... [more ▼]

The new Belgian “Princess Elisabeth” research station was built in 2009 and is located 200 km inland in the Western part of the Sør Rondane Mountains (Eastern Antarctica). The BELSPO projects ANTAR-IMPACT and BELDIVA aimed to evaluate the diversity and the distribution patterns of the microorganisms from different types of habitats in a radius of 50 km around the Belgian station. These data will serve to follow future anthropogenic and climatic impacts on these communities. Here, we focus on the diversity of cyanobacteria. [less ▲]

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See detailThe MicroH2 project:an association of four laboratories to improve theknowledge on biohydrogen production precesses
Beckers, Laurent ULg; Calusinska, Magdalena ULg; Hamilton, Christopher ULg et al

Poster (2012, June 04)

This poster presents a collaborative research project (MicroH2) held at the University of Liège (Belgium) since 2007 (www.microh2.ulg.ac.be) and involving four different research groups. The project aims ... [more ▼]

This poster presents a collaborative research project (MicroH2) held at the University of Liège (Belgium) since 2007 (www.microh2.ulg.ac.be) and involving four different research groups. The project aims to develop a center of excellence in the fields of photo- and dark- biohydrogen production. Our studies contribute to improve the knowledge of the processes involved in the microbiological production of hydrogen, from a fundamental and practical point of view. Some results are highlighted here. The research concerning photofermentation focuses on the interactions between respiration, photosynthesis and H2-producing pathways in algal microorganisms, by using mitochondrial mutants and genetically modified strains with modified ability for hydrogen production [1-2]. To study the metabolism of the hydrogen production by anaerobic bacteria, pure cultures and defined consortia are used and their production of biogas and soluble metabolites is measured. Moreover, we have developed and optimized molecular tools, like quantitative RT-PCR and FISH, to monitor the variations of bacterial populations in novel bioreactors for hydrogen production [3-4]. We have also mined the complete genomes of Clostridium spp. for putative hydrogenase genes and found a large diversity of them [5]. [less ▲]

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See detailTHREE NEW BCCM PUBLIC COLLECTIONS ON DIATOMS, MYCOBACTERIA AND CYANOBACTERIA
Rigouts, Leen; Vanormelingen, Pieter; Vyverman, Wim et al

Poster (2012, June)

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See detailFermentative hydrogen production from glucose and starch using pure strains and artificial co-cultures ofClostridium spp.
Masset, Julien; Calusinska, Magdalena ULg; Hamilton, Christopher et al

in Biotechnology for biofuels (2012), 5(35), 1-15

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pure bacterial strains give better yields when producing H2 than mixed, natural communities. However the main drawback with the pure cultures is the need to perform the fermentations ... [more ▼]

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pure bacterial strains give better yields when producing H2 than mixed, natural communities. However the main drawback with the pure cultures is the need to perform the fermentations under sterile conditions. Therefore, H2 production using artificial co-cultures, composed of well characterized strains, is one of the directions currently undertaken in the field of biohydrogen research. RESULTS: Four pure Clostridium cultures, including C. butyricum CWBI1009, C. pasteurianum DSM525, C. beijerinckii DSM1820 and C. felsineum DSM749, and three different co-cultures composed of (1) C. pasteurianum and C. felsineum, (2) C. butyricum and C. felsineum, (3) C. butyricum and C. pasteurianum, were grown in 20 L batch bioreactors. In the first part of the study a strategy composed of three-culture sequences was developed to determine the optimal pH for H2 production (sequence 1); and the H2-producing potential of each pure strain and co-culture, during glucose (sequence 2) and starch (sequence 3) fermentations at the optimal pH. The best H2 yields were obtained for starch fermentations, and the highest yield of 2.91 mol H2/ mol hexose was reported for C. butyricum. By contrast, the biogas production rates were higher for glucose fermentations and the highest value of 1.5 L biogas/ h was observed for the co-culture (1). In general co-cultures produced H2 at higher rates than the pure Clostridium cultures, without negatively affecting the H2 yields. Interestingly, all the Clostridium strains and co-cultures were shown to utilize lactate (present in a starch-containing medium), and C. beijerinckii was able to re-consume formate producing additional H2. In the second part of the study the co-culture (3) was used to produce H2 during 13 days of glucose fermentation in a sequencing batch reactor (SBR). In addition, the species dynamics, as monitored by qPCR (quantitative real-time PCR), showed a stable coexistence of C. pasteurianum and C. butyricum during this fermentation. CONCLUSIONS: The four pure Clostridium strains and the artificial co-cultures tested in this study were shown to efficiently produce H2 using glucose and starch as carbon sources. The artificial co-cultures produced H2 at higher rates than the pure strains, while the H2 yields were only slightly affected. [less ▲]

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See detailCyanobacterial diversity for an anthropogenic impact assessment in the Sor Rondane Mountains area, Antarctica
Fernandez-Carazo, Rafael; Namsaraev, Zorigto; Mano, Marie-José ULg et al

in Antarctic Science (2012), 24(3), 229-242

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See detailMICRO-H2 – Microbiological production of hydrogen: study of microalgal and bacterial processes
Calusinska, Magdalena ULg; Joris, Bernard ULg; Wilmotte, Annick ULg et al

Poster (2011, September 07)

The project MICRO-H2 aims to study and exploit the microbial (bacterial and algal) production of hydrogen (H2). In addition to building a competence centre around the H2 production by microorganisms and ... [more ▼]

The project MICRO-H2 aims to study and exploit the microbial (bacterial and algal) production of hydrogen (H2). In addition to building a competence centre around the H2 production by microorganisms and the molecular monitoring of the processes, this project tries to address two main socio-economic issues. First, transport and many economic activities will be based on hydrogen energy in the near future. Secondly, many researches and technology developments deal with renewable resources. Therefore, a new integrated technology for a sustainable development should be promoted. Photofermentation and dark-fermentation are the most promising ways to produce biohydrogen. The main advantage of the first process is the complete conversion of substrate, if any, to hydrogen. However, present H2-production rates by microalgae remain low. Therefore, a better understanding of the microalgal hydrogen metabolism and rate improvements by genetic engineering are needed. On the other hand, dark-fermentation achieves at present far higher H2-production rates, but improvements are expected through monitoring and optimisation of bacterial diversity and activity. The objectives about bacterial H2 production were to increase knowledge, stability potentialities and investigation skills about the consortia of bacteria involved in bioreactors treating wastewater rich in carbohydrates to produce biohydrogen. The project focused mainly on the study of the potentialities of different consortia, with a focus on Clostridium strains. Concerning the microalgal production of H2, the objectives were to increase knowledge on the metabolic interactions that determine H2 evolution at the cellular level and to produce new strains with increased ability for H2 production in the two-stage process. [less ▲]

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See detailGenetic diversity and amplification of different clostridial [FeFe] hydrogenases by group-specific degenerate primers
Calusinska, Magdalena ULg; Joris, Bernard ULg; Wilmotte, Annick ULg

in Letters in Applied Microbiology (2011), 53

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore and characterize the genetic diversity of [FeFe] hydrogenases in a representative set of strains from Clostridium sp. and to reveal the existence of neither yet ... [more ▼]

Aims: The aim of this study was to explore and characterize the genetic diversity of [FeFe] hydrogenases in a representative set of strains from Clostridium sp. and to reveal the existence of neither yet detected nor characterized [FeFe] hydrogenases in hydrogen-producing strains. Methods and Results: The genomes of 57 Clostridium strains (34 different genotypic species), representing six phylogenetic clusters based on their 16S rRNA sequence analysis (cluster I, III, XIa, XIb, XIV and XVIII), were screened for different [FeFe] hydrogenases. Based on the obtained alignments, ten pairs of [FeFe] hydrogenase cluster-specific degenerate primers were newly designed. Ten Clostridium strains were screened by PCRs to assess the specificity of the primers designed and to examine the genetic diversity of [FeFe] hydrogenases. Using this approach, a diversity of hydrogenase genes was discovered in several species previously shown to produce hydrogen in bioreactors: Clostridium sartagoforme, Clostridium felsineum, Clostridium roseum and Clostridium pasteurianum. Conclusions: The newly designed [FeFe] hydrogenase cluster-specific primers, targeting the cluster-conserved regions, allow for a direct amplification of a specific hydrogenase gene from the species of interest. Significance and Impact of the Study: Using this strategy for a screening of different Clostridium ssp. will provide new insights into the diversity of hydrogenase genes and should be a first step to study a complex hydrogen metabolism of this genus. [less ▲]

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See detailOrgano-mineral imprints in fossil cyanobacterial mats of an Antarctic lake
Lepot, Kevin ULg; Deremiens; Namsaraev, Zorigto ULg et al

Poster (2011, April 07)

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See detailNovel FISH and quantitative PCR protocols to monitor artificial consortia composed of different hydrogen-producing Clostridium spp.
Savichtcheva, Olga; Joris, Bernard ULg; Wilmotte, Annick ULg et al

in International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2011), 36

The use of an artificial consortium composed of selected hydrogen-producing species, instead of a natural anaerobic sludge, has been proposed for biohydrogen production. In order to monitor such a ... [more ▼]

The use of an artificial consortium composed of selected hydrogen-producing species, instead of a natural anaerobic sludge, has been proposed for biohydrogen production. In order to monitor such a consortium composed of different Clostridium spp., new protocols were tested for two different assays, FISH and qPCR. New species-specific FISH probes and qPCR primer sets were developed and optimised for three strains: Clostridium butyricum, Clostridium felsineum and Clostridium pasteurianum, that were used in a consortium. Application of a fast two-step FISH protocol, with pre-treatment step at 90 C for 5 min and a subsequent hybridisation step at higher temperature (55 C) for 20 min resulted in a much shorter analytical time compared to the standard FISH procedure (46 C for 2e3 h) and gave a high hybridisation performance. Moreover, to accurately quantify each microorganism by qPCR assay, two innovations were tested: the direct use of cell lysates (omitting the DNA extraction step) and the use of two alternative molecular markers, recA and gyrA. These markers are present in single copies in the genome, whereas there are multiple copies of the ribosomal operons. This resulted in the development of accurate, reliable and fast FISH and qPCR assays for routine monitoring of the dynamics of artificial hydrogen-producing microbial consortia. Moreover, both techniques can be easily adapted to new Clostridium strains. [less ▲]

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See detailAntarctic cyanobacterial diversity: how important are the geographical and ecological factors?
De Carvalho Maalouf, Pedro ULg; Lambion, Alexandre ULg; Gillard, Benjamin et al

Conference (2011, February)

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See detailA collection of polar cyanobacteria to contribute to the inventory of the biodiversity and discover the biotechnological potential
Wilmotte, Annick ULg; Waleron, Kzryzstof; Waleron, Malgorzata et al

Poster (2011, February)

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See detailCYANOBACTERIAL BLOOMS : TOXICITY, DIVERSITY, MODELLING AND MANAGEMENT
Descy, Jean-Pierre; Pirlot, S; Verniers, G et al

Report (2011)

The B-BLOOMS2 project aimed to deepen knowledge of cyanobacterial blooms in Belgium, improve the modelling for prediction and early-warning, develop operational monitoring structures and tools, and ... [more ▼]

The B-BLOOMS2 project aimed to deepen knowledge of cyanobacterial blooms in Belgium, improve the modelling for prediction and early-warning, develop operational monitoring structures and tools, and propose strategies to reduce the impact of cyanobacterial blooms. From a scientific point of view, the research programme focused on: - Collection of physical, chemical, biological and meteorological data on selected reference waterbodies plagued by toxic cyanobacterial blooms in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia; - Identification and study of the toxigenic cyanobacteria present in the Belgian samples using molecular tools on samples and strains, including genetic diversity and factors regulating their population dynamics; - Measurement of the major cyanotoxins present in the blooms and water samples by analytical methods; - Development and test of management scenarios for control or mitigation of cyanobacterial blooms in one reservoir using integrated watershed models; - Development of a statistical predictive model for a series of urban ponds. From a practical and science policy point of view, B-BLOOMS2 aimed to: - Implement a network of samplers based on existing monitoring programmes of surface waters or on collaboration with health authorities or environmental organisations (BLOOMNET); - Transfer knowledge about methods of monitoring and analysis of blooms to the water/health authorities and environmental organisations by hands-on courses in our laboratories and field sites; - Reinforce the communication to and with authorities and the general population, to raise public awareness, contribute to future guidelines and risk assessment procedures, and improve monitoring and management. [less ▲]

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