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BRITISH MICROBIAL BIODIVERSITY ASSOCIATION

 

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LAST UPDATED: 12/10/97 | Webmaster: max.atkinson@dial.pipex.com


MISSION STATEMENT

The British Microbial Biodiversity Association (BMBA) aims to provide a link between and within UK Universities and Bioindustries in order to promote the investigation, preservation and rational exploitation of global microbial biodiversity.

The British Microbial Biodiversity Association incorporates the UK Extremophile Network (UKEN) whose role is to promote interactive research on extremophilic micro-organisms.

News !!!

BMBA Objectives

BMBA Committee

UKEN Committee

BMBA Membership Application: Academic, Institutional ~~~~~and Industrial

Culture Collection

Forthcoming events

Contacting BMBA

BMBA Expedition REPORTS: 1. Montserrat 2. wootton ~~~~~Bassett & PICTURES: 1. Montserrat 2. Wootton Bassett

Current Memberships and Associates

Feedback Form

HOT List - BMBA affiliates and related sites


NEWS !!!

Montserrat Extremophile Expedition

Members of the Association visited the British Protectorate of Montserrat in March of 1996. The expedition was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to investigate the microbial diversity of the Montserrat soufrieres, the thermal springs associated with the island's volcano. For a fuller report on the expedition and a photographic record, click here.

The Wooton Basset Mud Spring

In June 1996, BMBA sent a team of microbiologists to monitor and sample the Wooton Basset (Gloucestershire, UK) mud springs. These unusual sites are more than 120 meters deep and emit a steady flow of fluidised mud at a rate of several cubic meters per day. The BMBA scientists are interested in the anaerobic microbiology of the mud flow and the possible links between this source and the deep terrestrial biosphere. For a fuller report on the expedition and photographic record, click here.

Bermuda Crystal Caves

Dr. Judy McArdell, while on vacation in Bermuda in August 1996 undertook a preliminary evaluation, for microbiological purposes, of these geologically unique caves which support rare macrobiotopes. The nearest evolutionary relatives of these biotopes are found in the Pacific, giving rise to speculation of an ancient subterranean link between the relatively isolated landmass of Bermuda and the Pacific. The caves are currently under environmental threat and dependent on the data, a further evaluation may be required which is in discussion with the UK Dependent Territories Conservation Forum and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Chagos Islands

BMBA is currently planning an expedition to investigate the Chagos islands in the Indian ocean. These islands are believed to represent one of the most unpolluted areas in the world. Watch this space!

BMBA Newsletter

Recently released copies of the BMBA newsletter, called " news ", are now available. Contact Clare Robinson or Sue Hill for copies.

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BMBA Objectives

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BMBA Executive Committee

Chairman                Prof.Tony Atkinson       Chimaeron Ltd.,8 Centre 1,                                                        
                                                 Lysander Way,Salisbury                                        
                                                 SP4 6BU,UK.
Chief Executive         Dr.Don Cowan             Department of Biochemistry                                                        
                                                 and Molecular Biology,University                               
                                                 College London,Gower St.,                                      
                                                 London WC1E 6BT,UK.
Committee               Dr.Mike Danson           Department of Biochemistry,                                                       
                                                 University of Bath,Claverton Down,                             
                                                 Bath,UK.
Administration          Ms.Sue Hill              Chimaeron Ltd.,8 Centre 1,                                                        
                                                 Lysander Way,Salisbury                                        
                                                 SP4 6BU,UK.
Business Development    Dr.Judy McArdell         Chimaeron Ltd.,8 Centre 1,                                                        
                                                 Lysander Way,Salisbury                                        
                                                 SP4 6BU,UK.
Industrial Liaison      Dr.Jamie McQuade         Helix Biotechnology Ltd.,Darwin                                                         
                                                 Building,University College London,                             
                                                 Gower St.,London WC1E 6BT,UK.
Reports Editor/         Dr.Clare Robinson        Department of Science Communication                                                         
Publicity                                        and Education,John Innes Centre,                             
                                                 Norwich Research Park,Colney,
                                                 Norwich NR4 7UH,UK.
Curator of Culture      Prof.Richard Sharp       CAMR,Porton Down,Salisbury 
Collection                                       SP4 OJG,UK. 


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UKEN Committee

Chairman                Prof. Tony Atkinson      Chimaeron Ltd.,8 Centre 1,                                                        
                                                 Lysander Way,Salisbury                                        
                                                 SP4 6BU,UK.
Committee               Dr. Don Cowan            Department of Biochemistry                                                        
                                                 and Molecular Biology,University                               
                                                 College London,Gower St.,                                      
                                                 London WC1E 6BT,UK.                                           

Committee               Dr. Mike Danson          Department of Biochemistry,                                                       
                                                 University of Bath,Claverton Down,                             
                                                 Bath,UK.
Treasurer               Prof. Bill Grant         Department of Microbiology,                                                       
                                                 University of Leicester,                                        
                                                 Leicester,UK.
Committee               Dr. Paul Norris          Department of Biological Sciences,                                                
                                                 University of Warwick,                                          
                                                 Gibbet Hill,Coventry,UK.
Committee               Prof. Nick Russell       Wye College,University of London,                                                     
                                                 Wye TN27 5AH,UK.
Committee               Prof. Richard Sharp      CAMR, Porton Down,Salisbury 
                                                 SP4 OJG,UK. 


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BMBA Membership: Academic

Members of the UK academic community wishing to join the BMBA should complete the form below and forward it by fax to: Don Cowan, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK. FAX: +44 (0)171 380 7193. For a single page print out form, click here.

Title:              .....................................................
Surname:            .....................................................
First name:         .....................................................
Address:            .....................................................
                    .....................................................
                    .....................................................
                    .....................................................
Telephone:          .....................................................
FAX:                .....................................................
E-MAIL:             .....................................................
Research Interests: ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................
Expertise:          ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................

As a member of the Association you will receive:

You may be asked to:

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BMBA Membership: Institutional

UK Institutes wishing to join the BMBA should complete the form below and forward it by fax to: Don Cowan, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK. FAX: +44 (0)171 380 7193. For a single page print out form, click here.

Title:              .....................................................
Surname:            .....................................................
First name:         .....................................................
Address:            .....................................................
                    .....................................................
                    .....................................................
                    .....................................................
Telephone:          .....................................................
FAX:                .....................................................
E-MAIL:             .....................................................
Research Interests: ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................
Expertise:          ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................
                    ........................................................................

As a member of the Association you will receive:

You may be asked to:

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BMBA Membership: Industrial

The BMBA encourages representatives of UK biological and chemical industries to become Associate members.

Representatives of UK industry wishing to join the BMBA should complete the form below and forward it by fax to: Don Cowan, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK. FAX: +44 (0)171 380 7193. For a single page print out form, click here.

Title:                .....................................................
Surname:              .....................................................
First name:           .....................................................
Address:              .....................................................
                      .....................................................
                      .....................................................
                      .....................................................
Telephone:            .....................................................
FAX:                  .....................................................
E-MAIL:               .....................................................
Commercial Interests: ......................................................................
                      ......................................................................
                      ......................................................................
                      ......................................................................

As a member of the Association you will receive:

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Culture Collection

The BMBA Microbial Culture Collection is held at Porton Down under the supervision of Richard Sharp. For more information on accessing or depositing strains, contact: Richard Sharp, CAMR, Porton Down, Salisbury SP4 OJG, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1980 612443. FAX: +44 (0)1980 611 320. E-MAIL: 100347.1397@compuserve.com

New Additions

From the Montserrat Expedition

Thermophilic bacilli - 65C isolates from Neil Raven,CAMR and Don Cowan,UCL.
Thermus              - several 75C isolates from Neil Raven,CAMR.
Rhodothermus         - several 60C isolates from Neil Raven,CAMR and Don Cowan,UCL.
Sulfobacillus        - a 62C metal oxidising strain from Paul Norris,Warwick.
Sulfolobus           - a 78C metal oxidising strain from Paul Norris,Warwick.
Acidimicrobium       - a 60C metal oxidising strain from Paul Norris,Warwick.

Other collections affiliated to BMBA

Extremophile Collection, EBS, CAMR                 -  3000 strains
University of Portsmouth, Marine fungal            -  7500 strains
CER, University of Bath, Extremophiles             -  600  strains
University of Coimbra, Portugal, Thermus species   -  300  strains
Centre for Biological Research, Naples, Italy,     -  2000 strains
Bacillus species. 
Helix Bug Bank™                                    -  2000 strains

Other culture collections are being negotiated and will be added at intervals

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Forthcoming Events

The following is a list of forthcoming events which may be of interest to BMBA members. If you know of any forthcoming events which you would like to see advertised here, contact Don Cowan or Tony Atkinson.

Oostende, Belgium, 21-24 April 1997. For more information or registration forms, contact: ISEB 1997, c/o TI-K VIV, att. Rita Peys, Desguinlei 214, B2018 Antwerpen, Belgium. FAX: +32 (3) 216 06 89.

The annual meeting of the UK Extremophile Network will be held at the Centre for Extremophile Research, University of Bath on the 15-16 September 1997. For more information, contact: Dr. D. Hough, Centre for Extremophile Research, University of Bath, BA2 7AY. FAX: +44 (0)1225 826779. E-MAIL: d.hough@bath.ac.uk

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Contacting BMBA

Tony Atkinson, Chairman; BMBA, 8 Centre 1, Lysander Way, Salisbury SP4 6BU, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1722 415026/7. FAX: +44 (0)1722 415028. E-MAIL: bmba@dial.pipex.com

Don Cowan, Chief Executive; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)171 387 7050 ext. 2246. FAX: +44 (0)171 380 7193. E-MAIL: don.cowan@ucl.ac.uk

Richard Sharp, Curator; CAMR, Porton Down, Salisbury SP4 OJG, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1980 612443. FAX: +44 (0)1980 611 320. E-MAIL: 100347.1397@compuserve.com

Clare Robinson; Department of Science Communication and Education, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Nowich NR4 7UH, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1603 452571. FAX: +44 (0)1603 456844. E-MAIL: clare.robinson@bbsrc.ac.uk

Judy McArdell; BMBA, 8 Centre 1, Lysander Way, Salisbury SP4 6BU, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1722 415026/7. FAX: +44 (0)1722 415028. E-MAIL: bmba@dial.pipex.com

Jamie McQuade; Helix Biotechnology Ltd., Darwin Building, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)171 383 5721. FAX: +44 (0)171 380 7018. E-MAIL: j.mcquade@bioc.bsb.ucl.ac.uk

Sue Hill; BMBA, 8 Centre 1, Lysander Way, Salisbury SP4 6BU, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1722 415026/7. FAX: +44 (0)1722 415028. E-MAIL: chimaeron@dial.pipex.com

Max Atkinson; BMBA, 8 Centre 1, Lysander Way, Salisbury SP4 6BU, UK. Telephone: +44 (0)1722 415026/7. FAX: +44 (0)1722 415028. E-MAIL: bmba@dial.pipex.com or max.atkinson@dial.pipex.com

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The Montserrat Extremophile Expedition

MONTSERRAT: A model system for the study of diverse microbial evolutionary mechanisms

(3/96) Attended by:

Tony Atkinson, University of Warwick, Don Cowan, University College London, Mike Danson and David Hough, University of Bath, Richard Sharp and Neil Raven, CAMR, Salisbury, Barrie Johnson, University of Bangor, Steve Cairns, University of Reading and Paul Norris, University of Warwick.

Introduction

Montserrat, a British Dependency located in the Lesser Antilles islands of the Caribbean archipelago, is a small island dominated by its volcanic history. The volcanic peak, currently active, supports a variety of hydrothermal features on its flanks which, together with the rich tropical terrestrial and marine environments, offer a spectacular diversity of macro- and microbiotopes.

The 30 year cycle of volcanic activity on Montserrat adds an interesting dimension to the hydrothermal biotopes. Changes in temperature, liquid volumes, gas content and mineralisation induced by fluctuating volcanic activity may have a profound influence on the evolution of microbial molecular resistance mechanisms.

The BBSRC funded UK Extremophile Expedition of March 1996 visited, mapped and sampled the hydrothermal regions of Montserrat, discovering a unique combination of thermal, saline, pH, mineral and redox gradients which support extremophilic microbial populations. The variability and proximity of these biotopes offer excellent opportunities for developing studies on microbial evolutionary mechanisms, particularly with respect to temperature, halophilicity, metal leaching and toxic metal resistance. The following examples represent the preliminary assessments of the UK Extremophile Expedition team of the possible targets for forced evolution studies.

Temperature Gradients

Galway's soufriere is characterised by a central thermal stream with an emission temperature above 95C and a cooling profile of some 70C over 200m. Lateral thermal inputs and flow fluctuations resulting from natural precipitation will result in periodic thermal fluctuations of 30-40C. Sites at points of thermal intermixing and along longitudinal profiles offer biotopes where both thermophilic and mesophilic micro-organisms may be subject to strong selective pressures for resistance to temperature fluctuations. Continuous on-site temperature monitoring supported by laboratory investigations of microbial thermal resistance and Arrhenius behaviour would be a valid approach to determining the significance of such adaptive pressures.

pH

pH values in hydrothermal emission fluids at different sites range from 1.2 to 8.1. In some sites, particularly Galway's soufriere, streams with widely divergent pH values mix to give intermediate pH values. For example, an acidic stream (pH 1.8) mixes constantly with the neutrophilic primary flow, both at thermophilic temperatures. At the point of mixing, non-laminar flow patterns will impose continuous and substantial pH fluctuations. Such sites may harbour pH adaptive extremophiles, potential targets for studies of modified H+ and Na+ transport proteins and membrane protein pH-dependent stability.

Salinity

Hot Water Pond is situated on the Western shoreline of Montserrat and is characterised by a number of saline hydrothermal sources. Variations in salinity resulting from changes in both terrestrial run-off volumes and saline ground-water evolution rates (in addition to storm driven sea-water ingress) may impose periodic fluctuations in both sodium, chloride and other salts. This site is also particularly interesting in having a high heterotrophic nutrient input.

Redox

On-site analysis of hydrothermal fluids in Galway's and Gages soufrieres showed that closely associated hydrothermal fluids contained widely divergent redox values (from +500 to -400). The consequences with respect to the oxidation states of potential autotrophic substrates and the resultant diversity of autotrophic and heterotrophic micro-organisms are particularly significant. Such sites, together with regions where high and low redox hydrothermal fluids mix, offer enormous potential for physiological and adaptation studies.

Metal ions

The hydrothermal fluids at both Galway's and Gages soufrieres are highly mineralised, showing high and varying concentrations of Fe (II/III) together with significant concentrations of Cd, Zn, Mn and other metals. Preliminary microbial isolations have identified a number of novel autotrophic Sulfolobus strains capable of growing on metal sulphides (Paul Norris, unpubl. results).

Experimental results

Detailed analytical results of the Montserrat extremophilic site are shown in Table 1. Results from the preliminary microbial identification studies are shown in Table 2. This listing will be updated with more data as it becomes available.

Table 1. Analytical data from the Montserrat soufrieres.

                                          SITE SUMMARY 
                                             RANGES 
                        T(C)    pH           Redox         Conductivity  ATP
Hot Water Pond:         57-84   5.1-6.4      -118 to +51   >20mM         129-480 
Tar River Soufriere:    50-100  very acidic  -             -             19-99 
Galway's Soufriere:     30-100  1.7-8.1      -403 to +500  ~15mM         31-826 
Lower Gages Soufriere:  25-92   1.0-2.8      ~+500         ~15mM         0(P)-191
Upper Gages Soufriere:  20-97   1.5-3.5      +117 to +472  ~15mM         0(P)-55 
Hot River:              44      6.4          ~+100         ~10mM         2-55x1000

Table 2. Microbiological isolations.

PRELIMINARY MICROBIOLOGICAL DATA

Hot Water Pond: Alicyclobacillus (1), Thermobacillus (22), Rhodothermus (2), : Thermophilic sulphate reducers; Sulpholobus Desulphurococcus, Thermoproteins (1), Thermus (2),

Tar River Soufriere: Sulpholobus

Galway's Soufriere: Thermophilic Sulpholobus - Montserrat type (new genus), new Sulpholobus thermoheterotrophic species; Low pH Alicyclobacillus, L.ferrooxidans, T.ferroxidans, high biodiversity of thermo, neutro and acido organisms and Fe2+ and S-oxidisers.

Lower Gages Soufriere: Sulphobacillus, Acidimicrobium, Thiobacillus caldus, acidophilic protozoa, fungi, L.ferrooxidans.

Upper Gages Soufriere: Sulphobacillus, Acidimicrobium, Thiobacillus caldus, thermo acidophilic archae, L.ferrooxidans.

Hot River: algae, mesophilic organisms.

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Pictures of The Montserrat Extremophile Expedition

1. Team on site in Galway's soufriere by steam vents

2. Main hydrothermal efflux sites in Galway's soufriere

3. Main valley of Galway's soufriere

4. Don Cowan and Barrie Johnson sampling from main thermoacidophilic pool in Upper Gages soufriere

5. Richard Sharp and Barrie Johnson sampling in Hot Water Pond

6. Mineralisation of Galway's soufriere


Wootton Bassett Mud Springs Expedition

(14/6/96) Attended by:

Tony Atkinson, Don Cowan, Mike Danson, David Hough, Neil Raven, Debbie Poole, Peter O'Flaherty, Paul Riley, Max Atkinson, Sue Hill, Maureen Atkinson, David Montagu.

General Description

Wootton Bassett Mud Springs are a ten minute walk by foot alongside a canal and across agricultural land. The springs, of which all were sampled, are sectioned off by barbed wire fencing of approximately 60 square metres within which the land resembles a wooded area of wild grass, shrubs, trees within a small stream flowing through it from east to west close to the southern edge of the area.

All surface temperature measurements varied due to the increasing heat of the sun. Ambient temperature was about 25C. Due to the nature of the samples a modified ATP procedure had to be undertaken.

Within the area there are five main sites of mud spring activity of which site 1 can be subdivided into three separate mud springs. data is presented for site 1a only as a representative example of all sites.

Site 1

Three separate mud springs (Site1a - Site 1c) located by a dead tree in a clearing. Each spring measured approximately 3/4 of a metre in diameter covering a distance of approximately 4 metres in total.

Navsat Reading: 51D 31M 96S N and taken approx. 2 metres south from site 1a: 001D 53M 36S W

Site 1a

Site 1a measured 12.8 metres from Site 2 on a bearing of 326 degrees and was the nearest of the Site 1 grouping to Site 2.

Surface Temperature:		22.8C (reading taken at noon) 
Temperature at depth:
3-5cm				21.1C 
20cm				18.6C
40cm				15.8C
60cm				15.7C
80cm				15.6C
100cm				15.6C
120cm				15.3C
140cm				15.2C
160cm				15.1C
180cm				15.0C
200cm				12.3C (varying down to 11.9C)

pH:				7.39
Conductivity:			1798
ATP Surface sample:		53 RLU
ATP ~ 2 metre depth:		58 RLU

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Pictures of The Wootton Bassett Mud Springs Expedition

1. Picture 1 & 2


Academic Membership

Members                Institution                 Research Interests                                                                                                                
Dr.Alan Beswick        University of Birmingham    Environmental Biology
Mr.George Bremmer      University of Portsmouth    Marine fungals
Prof.Alan Bull         University of Kent          Biodiversity
Dr.Steve Cairns        University of Reading       SRBs,anaerobes,N-fixation
Dr.Julian Chaudhuri    University of Bath          Fermentation/Purification
Dr.Don Cowan           University College London   Thermophiles,Industrial
                                                   enzymology,Biocatalysis
Dr.Mike Danson         University of Bath          Molecular enzymology of
                                                   Extremophiles
Dr.Martin Embley       Nat.History Museum,London   Biodiversity
Prof.Mike Goodfellow   University of Newcastle     Taxonomy
Prof.Bill Grant        University of Leicester     Alkalophiles,Halophiles
Prof.David Hopwood     John Innes Centre,Norwich   Biodiversity
Dr.David Hough         University of Bath          Enzyme structure/stability,Chemistry
Dr.Barrie Johnson      University of Bangor        Acidophiles
Prof.Doug Kell         University of Aberystwyth   Microbial Diversity
Dr.Miles King          Nat.History Museum,London   Conservation
Dr.Jenny Littlechild   University of Exeter        Protein stability,Crystallography
Dr.Nick Mann           University of Warwick       Marine diversity
Dr.David Montagu       Royal Society,London        Biodiversity
Dr.Colin Murrell       University of Warwick       Microbial diversity
Dr.Paul Norris         University of Warwick       Acidophiles,Microbial ore recovery
Mr.Peter O'Flaherty    University of Bath          Extremophiles
Dr.Neil Raven          CAMR,Salisbury              Thermophiles,rDNA technology
Dr.Paul Riley          CAMR,Salisbury              Methanogens
Dr.David Roberts       Nat.History.Museum,London   Eukaryotic microbial diversity
Dr.Clare Robinson      John Innes Centre,Norwich   Microbial diversity/biotechnology
Prof.Rob Robson        University of Reading       SRBs,anaerobes,N-fixation
Prof.Nick Russell      Wye College,London          Psychrophiles
Dr.Andy Shuttleworth   CBDE,Porton                 Microbial diversity
Dr.Mick Tuite          University of Kent          Biodiversity
Dr.Andrew Willetts     University of Exeter        Halophiles,Biotransformations,
                                                   Protein structure
 

Institutional Membership

Members                Organisation                Research Interests                                                                                                                 
Dr.Neil Bruce          Inst.Biotech,Cambridge      Microbial Biodiversity
Dr.Richard Flavell     John Innes Centre,Norwich   Microbial Biodiversity
Dr.Alison George       British Antartic Survey     Microbial Ecology
Prof.Richard Sharp     CAMR,Salisbury              Thermophiles,Industrial enzymology
Dr.Rick Titball        CBDE,Porton                 Microbial Biodiversity
Dr.Julie West          British Geological Survey   Geology and biodiversity
Prof.Roger Whittenbury Biol.Sci,University Warwick Biodiversity

Industrial Membership

Members                Organisation                Research Interests                                                                                                                 
Dr.Max Atkinson        Chimaeron Ltd                   -
Prof.Tony Atkinson     Chimaeron Ltd/              Pharmaceuticals,Thermophiles,
                       University of Warwick       Microbial physiology
Dr.David Byrom         Zeneca                     (bio)pharmaceuticals/specialities
Dr.Robert Carr         Macranal Ltd                Biodiversity
Prof.Roger Cripps      Consultant                  Biocatalysis,Biotransformation 															      
Dr.Harry Eccles        BNFL                        Metal ion resistance
Ms.Sue Hill            Chimaeron Ltd                   -
Prof.John Holbrook     Chiravon Ltd                Biocatalysis
Dr.Derek Layton        Duramed Europe Ltd          Pharmaceuticals
Dr.Judy McArdell       Duramed Europe              Biodiversity
                                                   microbial Product
Dr.Ray Mckee           Celsis                      Diagnostics
Dr.Jamie McQuade       Helix Biotechnology Ltd     Industrial Enzymology
Dr.Roy Smither         RS Associates                   -

Honorary Membership

Members                Institution                 Research Interests                                                                                                              
Mrs.Maureen Atkinson   Chimaeron Ltd (CEO)             -
Mr.James Lee           Montserrat,WI.                  -
Dr.Andrew Mello        Bermuda                         -
Dr.Debbie Poole        BBSRC                           -

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