February 2015

Event Date: 
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 18:00 - 18:15
Institution: 
UTS
Title: 

Photosynthetic Microbial Fuel Cells: From Sunlight to Bioelectricity

Abstract: 

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) harvest electricity from microorganisms capable of catalyzing the conversion of chemical energy in organic compounds into electrical power. As any other fuel cells, MFCs consist of an anode and a cathode chamber connected together by an external circuit. The flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode generates a current. A major limitation for the use of MFCs is their cost per unit of electricity as they often require expensive catalysts, ion-exchange membranes and air-pumps. This presentation describes a photosynthetic biocathode in a sediment-type microbial fuel cell (pMFC) constructed without a proton exchange membrane and exposed to sunlight. The carbon and stainless steel cathode did not contain any catalyst, but was covered in a biofilm composed of a complex community including microalgae and cyanobacteria. The impacts of various parameters, such as temperature and dissolved oxygen, on the performance of sediment-type pMFCs were monitored. We found that higher temperatures lowered the anode potential by boosting the metabolism of the anodic biofilm. The biological production of oxygen in close proximity to the illuminated cathode significantly increased its performance as compared to that achievable with mechanical aeration. However, the photosynthetic biofilms grown in this study did not appear to catalyse oxygen reduction reactions, since a clean electrode, without biofilm, performed equally well. Instead, the reduction of oxygen at the cathode during daytime is likely to follow the peroxide pathway. 

Event Date: 
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 18:15 - 18:30
Institution: 
University of Florida / UWS
Title: 

Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus encodes a functional salicylic acid hydroxylase which degrades SA and contributes to the suppression of plant defence

Abstract: 

Salicylate (SA) is a plant hormone and plays important roles in plant defence. SA is synthesized in the chloroplast and transmitted in the phloem. SA hydroxylase is a flavoprotein monooxygenase with the enzyme activity of degradation of SA and is a proximal component of the naphthalene degradation pathway in many bacteria. Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the causal agent of the most devastating citrus disease, is phloem limited and encodes a SA hydroxylase. In this study, we have shown that the SA hydroxylase is functional in degrading SA and its analogs. Ca. L. asiaticus infected plants have reduced PR gene (PR1, PR2, and PR5) expression and SA accumulation in Duncan grapefruit and Valencia sweet orange in response to subsequent inoculation with Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri (Xac) Aw, which is nonpathogenic on both citrus varieties. Ca. L. asiaticus also increased citrus susceptibility to subsequent infection by X. citri. The bacterial populations of XacA and XacAw in grapefruit were significantly higher in Ca. L. asiaticus infected plants compared to healthy control. Our data suggest that Ca. L. asiaticus encodes a functional salicylic acid hydroxylase which degrades SA and contributes to the suppression of plant defence. To counteract this virulence mechanism of Ca. L. asiaticus, foliar spray of SA analogs 2, 6-Dichloroisonicotinic acid (INA) and 2,1,3-Benzothiadiazole (BTH) and SA producing bacterial isolates was conducted to control HLB in large scale field trials. Both INA and BTH in combination with selected bacterial strains slowed down the increase of Ca. L. asiaticus titers in planta and HLB disease severity compared to negative control. SA hydroxylase seems to be an ideal target to develop small molecule inhibitors since no human homolog is present and it is not essential for bacterial growth, hence, the possibility of resistance development is minimized.      Salicylate (SA) is a plant hormone and plays important roles in plant defence. SA is synthesized in the chloroplast and transmitted in the phloem. SA hydroxylase is a flavoprotein monooxygenase with the enzyme activity of degradation of SA and is a proximal component of the naphthalene degradation pathway in many bacteria. Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the causal agent of the most devastating citrus disease, is phloem limited and encodes a SA hydroxylase. In this study, we have shown that the SA hydroxylase is functional in degrading SA and its analogs. Ca. L. asiaticus infected plants have reduced PR gene (PR1, PR2, and PR5) expression and SA accumulation in Duncan grapefruit and Valencia sweet orange in response to subsequent inoculation with Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri (Xac) Aw, which is nonpathogenic on both citrus varieties. Ca. L. asiaticus also increased citrus susceptibility to subsequent infection by X. citri. The bacterial populations of XacA and XacAw in grapefruit were significantly higher in Ca. L. asiaticus infected plants compared to healthy control. Our data suggest that Ca. L. asiaticus encodes a functional salicylic acid hydroxylase which degrades SA and contributes to the suppression of plant defence. To counteract this virulence mechanism of Ca. L. asiaticus, foliar spray of SA analogs 2, 6-Dichloroisonicotinic acid (INA) and 2,1,3-Benzothiadiazole (BTH) and SA producing bacterial isolates was conducted to control HLB in large scale field trials. Both INA and BTH in combination with selected bacterial strains slowed down the increase of Ca. L. asiaticus titers in planta and HLB disease severity compared to negative control. SA hydroxylase seems to be an ideal target to develop small molecule inhibitors since no human homolog is present and it is not essential for bacterial growth, hence, the possibility of resistance development is minimized.