Lipid Signatures of Differentially-Cultivated Francisella tularensis and Acinetobactor baumannii

Dr. Ernst ProjectsBroad, long term objectives:

For forensic and national security purposes, the capacity to determine the cultivation history of bacterial sample would be highly desirable. The ability to discern between a naturally-occurring microbe and one previously cultured and maliciously dispersed could be pivotal to the engagement of investigative and/or national security responses. Currently, gaps in our knowledge and limits in our technical repertoire hinder the feasibility of making such determinations. To fill these gaps, we will use mass spectrometry (MS) and gas-chromatography (GC)-based approaches to establish comprehensive proteomic (Dr. K Hazlett - Albany Medical College) and lipidomic databases. For these assays. two bacteria - Francisella tularensis and Acinetobacter baumannii will be grown under both standard laboratory conditions as well as those which mimic the bacterium’s natural environment. To advance our technical capacities, single cells of these same bacteria will be analyzed for structural and chemical features with an atomic force microscope (AFM) equipped with a dual-AFM/Raman spectroscopy (RS) probe (Dr. A. Zhou - Utah State University).

Goal of the specific research proposed will:

I) establish and validate a database of protein, lipid, and AFM/RS signatures indicative of cultivation history for two medically-relevant bacterial models.

II) further our understanding of the influence of growth conditions on bacterial membrane composition.