Drs. Murdoch and Graham were just awarded a grant from NASA to study scorpion microbiomes! Dr. Murdoch’s students have been busily studying the ‘culturable’ microbes from desert scorpions (Smeringurus mesaensis), so now it’s time to look for the ‘unculturables.’ To do this, Eastern undergraduates will be using a variety of techniques, including subcloning of bacterial DNA, as outlined in the figure below. We predict that ancient organisms like scorpions may harbor particularly old and novel suites of bacterial species in the microbiomes. Since most antibiotics in use today were isolated from bacteria, missions to discover new bacterial taxa could be paramount to combating the global antiobiotic resistance crisis.
We thank Dr. Murdoch for initiating this project and for providing expertise in this exciting new line of research for our lab. We also thank Dr. Elizabeth Cowles and members of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium for their support.
“Antimicrobial resistance is not a future threat looming on the horizon. It is here, right now, and the consequences are devastating.”
Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization, 2014.
Subcloning workflow for our scorpion microbiome project. The photograph of S. mesaensis (bottom scorpion) was kindly provided by Dr. Brent Hendrixson.