Faculty Sponsor

Teresa Thiel

Final Abstract for URS Program

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic, gram-negative prokaryotes, which facilitated Earth's atmospheric shift from predominantly carbon dioxide to rich in oxygen allowing for more complex organisms to evolve. Some cyanobacteria perform nitrogen fixation, a process that reduces dinitrogen from the air to usable nitrogen sources, such as ammonium. Cyanobacteria do this using an enzyme called nitrogenase. However, nitrogenase is oxygen-sensitive and cyanobacteria must separate this process from oxygen-producing photosynthesis either spatially, in different cell types, or temporally, night vs day. The regulator gene cnfR1 controls the nitrogenase genes, but the regulatory elements that control cnfR1 are not yet known. The goal of this project is to identify new protein factors that control the nitrogenase regulator, cnfR1. Transposon mutagenesis and genetic screening will be paired with fluorescent reporter proteins, such as GFP, to identify new genes required for nitrogenase gene regulation.

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