Characterization of the Microbial Community of the Clinging Jellyfish, Gonionemus vertens

The orange and green iridescent colonies that grabbed our attention from the Gonionemus Vertens, Clinging Jellyfish have been the subject of the semester’s research this far. There are currently nine different iridescent isolates that are the focus of my current investigations. Although this is not a novel group of Bacteria, these bacteria have never been associated or isolated from invertebrates. The Clinging Jellyfish were originally collected while wading near Rye Beach this summer. After isolating some 28 strains from the Clinging Jellyfish, I amplified the 16srRNA gene and sent these out for genetic sequencing. After getting my results I was able to compare the new sequences from the isolates to existing bacterial representatives in the GenBank database. All of my strains were grown up and archived in glycerol stock in the -80°C freezer. These archived strains will be the working stock for future experiments and prevent the loss of the isolated cultures. Each of the isolates were restreaked on media to check for pure colonies and resequenced in order to confirm the identity of the archived isolates.

I am interested in the role of the iridescent bacterium associated with the Clinging Jellyfish and proposed that they may imbue the host with certain optical properties that may help it survive. I will conduct some future experiments determine if the bacteria could directly cause a change in the properties of the host.

We have taken a further look into each of the iridescent colonies and more specifically how they are categorized according to their genus. From the sequence identifications, it has become apparent that the two dominant genera in our samples are Tenacibaculum and Pseudoalteromonas. The genus Pseudoalteromonas is of special interest to us because has been found to produce compounds with antimicrobial, algicidal, antifouling and many other pharmaceutically relevant properties. There have been no known genera of Pseudoalteromonas that exhibit this reflective property and our lab plans to sequence the full bacterial genome and further characterize its metabolic properties.

As both of these genera exhibit gliding motility that may play a role in the colonization of the hosts, I will characterize the gliding motility and potentially use motility as a phenotype for future genetic experiments as time permits.