Friday, January 02, 2015

Haloferax volcanii, model archaea, and me

When I was a graduate student I was looking around for an extremophile - especially an evolutionarily novel one.  And I settled on this species Haloferax volcanii - a model halophilic archaeon largely because Ford Doolittle and colleagues had started to turn it into a genetic model organism (and because Patrick Keeling, from Ford's lab convinced me it was a good thing to do).  So I started work on this species - doing DNA repair studies in the lab.  See my PhD thesis for some of the work I did which I never published outside of the thesis for multiple reasons.  But I continued to be interested in this species.  And when I was working at TIGR, an NSF Program Officer approached me asking me to help get the genome sequencing done for this species.  So, well, I did: The Complete Genome Sequence of Haloferax volcanii DS2, a Model Archaeon.  And I became interested in other haloarchaea and eventually started working with Marc Facciotti, in the lab next to mine, in sequencing from across the diversity of the haloarchaea: Sequencing of Seven Haloarchaeal Genomes Reveals Patterns of Genomic Flux and Phylogenetically Driven Sequencing of Extremely Halophilic Archaea Reveals Strategies for Static and Dynamic Osmo-response.

Anyway - enough about me.  The whole point here is to point people to a new paper:  BMC Biology | Abstract | Generation of comprehensive transposon insertion mutant library for the model archaeon, Haloferax volcanii , and its use for gene discovery.  Further evidence for the use of Haloferax volcanii as a model species.  Tools continue to become available for genetic and experimental studies in this species.  So - if you are looking for an unusual and interesting organisms to work on - consider working on this species ...


  1. I second that recommendation (and follow it). Also one should acknowledge the lare contribution of the nice tools generated by Thorsten Allers in recent years, which have made Haloferax an even better model system.

    1. Yes, indeed. Thorsten has been amazing

  2. I really like and appreciate your blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  3. An excellent recommendation and interesting species to work on indeed! For more on the "unusual" aspect, those interested can also see our recent BMC Biology paper, showing a social motility phenomenon in H. volcanii, as well as further study of a largely uncharacterized unique gene transfer mechanism known as "mating," first described by Moshe Mevarech and colleagues in the 1980s (another champion of this species, along with Thorsten Allers).