Biology majors Yen Nguyen and Jessica Thawley discovered a new bacteria species during their Marine Microbiology (MICR 401L) lab in Spring 2016. The new species belongs in a genus called Piscirickettsia. The only other known species in that genus causes disease in some fish, but the one Yen and Jessica discovered appears to be free-living.
To help formally characterize the new species, Alex Lee (Microbiology, English), joined the 2016 cohort of the NSF-funded ‘Research Experiences for Undergraduates’ program at UH Mānoa, and with the assistance of Dr. Stuart Donachie of the Department of Microbiology, and Drs. Ivy Wan and Shaobin Hou (Advanced Studies in Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics) completed a draft of the genome sequence of the new species. This was just published in the journal Genome Announcements.

A draft genome sequence may contain gaps, or have parts in the wrong order, so to complete the sequence Alex was just awarded $5000 by the UH Mānoa Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Completing the sequence will provide insights into the evolution of pathogenicity in the genus, and help resolve relationships among the bacteria in the family Piscirickettsiaceae.

View the publication at
Wan X, Lee AJ, Hou S, Ushijima B, Nguyen YP, Thawley JA, Donachie SP (2016) Draft genome sequence of Piscirickettsia litoralis, from seawater. Genome Announcements 4:e01252-16; doi:10.1128/genomeA.01252-16
Information about the UHM-REU
NSF REU Award information
Principal Investigator: Stuart Donachie; Co-Principal Investigator: Stephanie Kraft-Terry.
Award Number: 1560491
Information about UHM-UROP
Information about ASGPB
The Advanced Studies in Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics (ASGPB) was established at the UH College of Natural Sciences in 2003. The genomics core facility offers high-throughput DNA sequencing and high-performance bioinformatic analysis services to users both here and abroad.