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Research Program

Polyphasic Taxonomy/Microbial Informatics Thrust Group


STC Faculty -- J. Cole, J. Breznak, T. Schmidt, G. Garrity, S. Pramanik, E. Torng, M. Worden, J. Tiedje

Collaborators -- O. Strunk (Tech. U. Munich, Germany), G. Olsen (U. of Illinois), H. Sugawara and S. Miyasaki (Nat'l. Inst. of Genetics, Japan)

Postdocs -- T. Lilburn, F. Loeffler

Graduate Students -- B. Li, J. Graber

Undergraduate Students -- C. Parker, P. Saxman

Technicians -- K. Kim, K. Byzek, J. Leadbetter

1999 Research Accomplishments:

As envisioned last year, we have migrated the focus of this group from Polyphasic Taxonomy, which included diversity discovery, to Microbial Informatics. This transition is consistent with our vision of needs, opportunities and advances for the future. This is build on the base of RDP-II and the associated new database system, curation and Web based tools, plus the expertise we have gained in merging computer science and biology themes. In addition we have begun genomic and DNA microarray work and see the need for informatics in support of this work. Microbial informatics represents an excellent opportunity for cross disciplinary learning and for young students to grow up with key expertise in new fields in which there will be high demand. Three cross disciplinary (computer science & biology) students (Parker, Saxman and Li) have already spent a year or more working in this thrust group. Major initiatives in the thrust group include

1. Ribosomal Database (RDP-II) Development
    (Visit the RDP-II website)

2. T-RFLP Methodology and Web Site

3. Diversity Discovery - The Spirochete Model

Future Plans:

As described in the above descriptions, the transition to a more extensive informatics program will continue. RDP-II was recently funded by DOE for $1 million for 3 years, and a new DOE grant jointly between ORNL, Cal Tech and CME/MSU has initiated genomics and microarray work. Furthermore, one focal area of the new Michigan Life Sciences corridor investment is informatics. We are well positioned to expand microbial informatics through this initiative. Microbial biodiversity discovery will continue through a variety of projects targeted to specific habitats, processes and questions. Our expertise in this area is unique.


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