Date: Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 10 am (Manila Time)


Shipworms are marine bivalves that live and feed on wood. These bivalves, like most xylophagous and herbivorous animals, rely on bacterial symbionts to digest the recalcitrant lignocellulose component of plants. What’s unusual about shipworms is that bacterial symbionts are housed intracellularly in the specialized cells in the gills, therefore are not in direct contact with the ingested food particles. Culture-independent studies revealed that the shipworm gill endosymbiont community is composed of several closely related gammaproteobacteria. One of the endosymbionts called Teredinibacter turnerae, a cellulolytic and nitrogen-fixing bacterium, has been isolated in pure culture from numerous shipworm species. The genome of T. turnerae encodes a large array of enzymes with predicted activities towards complex plant cell wall polysaccharides, thus is a potential source of novel enzymes that can be used for cellulosic biofuel production. In addition, T. turnerae devotes a significant portion of its genome to secondary metabolite production, hence it is a suitable candidate for drug discovery. Here, we will present the genomic studies made on the newly discovered cultivatable members of the shipworm endosymbiont community. By comparing the genomes of these bacteria, we can begin to decipher the important properties that govern this peculiar form of symbiosis.

marvin_altamiaMarvin Altamia

Researcher, Gisela Concepcion Laboratory,
Marine Science Institute,
University of the Philippines Diliman

About the Speaker

Marvin Altamia obtained his B.S. Biochemistry degree from the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently working on the US-NIH funded research project entitled Philippine Mollusk Symbiont – International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (PMS-ICBG) at the laboratory of Gisela P. Concepcion in The Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman.

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