Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Undergrads' Amazon Trip Yields A Treasure Trove Of Diversity

Date:
August 26, 2008
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Yale undergraduates have discovered dozens of potentially beneficial bioactive microorganisms within plants they collected in the Amazon rain forest, including several so genetically distinct that they may be the first members of new taxonomical genera.

Yale undergraduate Sun Jin Lee discovered that an extract from a second fungal endophtye reduces inflammation in human tissue. A subsequent analysis of the molecule revealed it to be an inhibitor of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

A group of Yale undergraduates have discovered dozens of potentially beneficial bioactive microorganisms within plants they collected in the Amazon rain forest, including several so genetically distinct that they may be the first members of new taxonomical genera.

Related Articles


The analysis of 135 endophytes - fungal and bacterial microorganisms living within the inner tissue of plants - by members of the Rain Forest Expedition and Laboratory course at Yale will be published August 25 in the journal PLoS One.

The endophytes were collected during a 2007 trip to Peru organized by Scott Strobel, chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The ability of 15 untrained students to find and culture such a novel collection of organisms, many of which are biologically active, illustrates the vast scientific potential of tropical areas, Strobel said.

"The sheer amount of diversity the students discovered surprised everybody,'' Strobel said. "We have only just begun to tap the potential of these microorganisms. Our undergraduates have given us a peek at the treasure these habitats hold and we need to move quickly to preserve them."

The students collected the specimens in March of 2007 and spent much of the next six months isolating and culturing the organisms, sequencing their DNA, and screening them for biological activity. Nearly half of the organisms analyzed showed evidence of bioactivity.

Endophytes remain relatively unstudied by scientists, however their potential value was illustrated more than a decade ago when the blockbuster cancer drug taxol was isolated from a fungal endophyte collected from a Pacific Yew tree.

Already, the Yale undergraduates have found at least two endophytes with some therapeutic potential. Undergraduate Cong "Carl" Ma, working in collaboration with recent graduate Puyao Li, found one fungal endophtye with anti-oxidant properties.

Yale undergraduate Sun Jin Lee discovered that an extract from a second fungal endophtye reduces inflammation in human tissue. A subsequent analysis of the molecule revealed it to be an inhibitor of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

In addition, the endophyte studied by Lee was one of 10 that varied by 15 to 30 percent from any sequence of DNA stored in GenBank, the virtual repository of genetic sequences of organisms. Such a difference is sufficient to classify the micro-organism in an entirely novel genus.

"The diversity we found blew everyone away,'' Lee said.

Strobel said that a second Yale expedition conducted last March in Ecuador has yielded just as diverse a collection of bioactive endophytes as the 2007 effort.

"Clearly the inner tissues of plants are a biological niche for microbial life that warrants further exploration," Strobel said. "It is a niche that can be readily explored by undergraduate students. The potential to explore something so completely unknown gets the students very excited about science."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Undergrads' Amazon Trip Yields A Treasure Trove Of Diversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080822215453.htm>.
Yale University. (2008, August 26). Undergrads' Amazon Trip Yields A Treasure Trove Of Diversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080822215453.htm
Yale University. "Undergrads' Amazon Trip Yields A Treasure Trove Of Diversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080822215453.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins