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Understanding biological nitrogen fixation

Research Achievements

Understanding biological nitrogen fixation

Trainee Trinity Hamilton interned with Dr. Don Bryant's group in the Dept. of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University. Her research involves understanding biological nitrogen fixation, which is catalyzed by a diversity of microbes present in both bacterial and archaeal domains. Biological N- fixation is important in natural ecosystems, since it can relieve fixed N source limitation. Most biological N-fixation is catalyzed by molybdenum-nitrogenase, which exists as two separable proteins. In addition to molybdenum-nitrogenase, other alternative forms of nitrogenase exist and are thought to be expressed during Mo-limitation. Using Azotobacter vinelandii as a model organism, Trinity has been analyzing the full transcriptome under diazotrophic conditions of Mo- or Mo- and V- limitation. Transcriptomic analysis of organisms with all three forms of the enzymes will provide insight into the response to differences in metal availability under N limiting conditions.