New Collaborations

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Microbes of the Atacama Desert Database, MADD

In the Atacama Desert there is a high proportion of microorganisms that produce bioactive compounds which can have a high value, both natural and economic. Hence CeBiB has developed a platform for a national reference database to describe the microbial diversity of the Atacama Desert.

2.300

130

microorganisms

different sites

0 to nearly 6,000 mts

altitude range

CeBiB research

All the information is being manually curated by CeBiB experts. At present it contains more tan 2,300 microorganisms from over 130 different sites, an altitude range from 0 to nearly 6,000 mts., and a large range of sources such as soil, water sediment, mud, quartz, rocks, microbial mats and biofilms. Environments include lakes, foggy sites and hyper-arid desert. The data has been classified in six categories: taxonomy, isolation metadata, physiology, metabolites, genome and morphology. Finally, the database includes four types of search options: basic search, taxonomic tree, advanced search and geolocation search. The developmnt of such a database is of great importance for the country both for researchers and for educational purposes.

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A Mathematical Model of the Dynamics of Red Tide

A very sophisticated and complete model that includes a large range of different mathematical elements ranging from algal growth kinetics to computational fluid dynamics, whose ambitious final aim is to be able to simulate and predict the environmentally very harmful phenomena of the Red Tide, is being developed.

The main mathematical descriptions include:

A complex equation

for algal growth

Difussion

of algae in seawater

The return of the algae

from the bottom of the sea to the domain

CeBiB research

The main mathematical descriptions include a complex equation for algal growth which depends on light intensity, salinity, nutrient concentration and temperature. It also includes the difussion of algae in seawater, a self propulsión term for algae seeking the light, the velocity field of the seawater, the capacity of the sea with respect to the algae, the return of algae from the bottom of the sea to the domain, a source term describing the algae concentration at the boundary sea-sea (actual red tide), the effect of ocean tides and also vertical motions of the sea. The proper solutions include discretization of a simplified model and a finite volume method. The predictive capacity of the model, as well as its calibration and validation, will be developed based on historical data available for 15 years, which includes measurements of density (concentration of cells) at different depths, water temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, precipitation, salinity, radiation, dissolved oxygen and pH.

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Environmental Biotechnology, Extremophiles and Algal Applications

A clear example of a totally novel application generated in the last 3 years at CeBiB is a Project in conjunction with the company EcoMetales that is responsable for the abatement of arsenic in the main Chilean copper producing company Codelco.

The project includes experimental methodology such as:

Testing

a range of microbial cultures

Molecular analysis

of its DNA

Reconstruction

of appropiate metabolic models

CeBiB research

The Project is entitled “Arsenic abatement in the copper industry using state-of-the-art biotechnology methods: genomes and bioinformatics”. The final aim is to find a consortia of bacteria with the appropriate metabolism or combination of metabolisms capable of capturing and/or oxidizing arsenic: a multidisciplinary approach within CeBiB. It includes experimental methodology such as testing a range of microbial cultures, molecular analysis of its DNA, a bioinformatics analysis and the reconstruction of appropriate metabolic models which resulted initially in 6 most likely species. After a detailed investigation and analysis of the model reconstruction using all the appropriate tools (KEGG, BioCyc, Blast, Rast, COBRA, Optknock and others) the consortium resulted in 6 specific bacteria led by A. ferrivorans and also other Acidithiobacillus.