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University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD Defense: Siddharth Uppal




Siddharth Uppal, Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate student (Kwan Research Group, will be defending his PhD research thesis:

Comparative and functional analysis of unculturable bacteria using genome-resolved metagenomics

Studying bacterial communities helps us in understanding the evolutionary relationships between species and ecology of different environments. Bacteria are also a rich source of natural product-derived drug leads. However, the vast majority of the bacteria are hard, and many times impossible, to culture under laboratory settings. To fully understand the bacterial community and access the wealth of potential drug leads, it’s important to study the unculturable bacteria. Culture-independent sequencing (known as metagenomics) tries to solve this problem by providing insights regarding bacterial genomes (genome-resolved) in a sample without the need to isolate or culture them.

In this doctoral presentation I will discuss how I used genome-resolved metagenomics to answer different research questions and the insights gained from them. I will talk about the analysis of a marine sponge metagenome that led to the uncovering of the genes as well as the novel bacterium responsible for the biosynthesis of lasonolide A, a potential anti-cancer drug candidate. We further identified these biosynthetic genes to be horizontally transferred and repeated thrice. I will also discuss our evolutionary analysis of lagriamide (an antifungal compound) producing bacterial symbionts and their beetle hosts. We identified multiple independent events of symbiont acquisition by the beetle host, which were followed by genome reduction. We also found evidence of these bacterial symbionts being replaced in the beetle host. Finally, I will talk about our comparative and functional analysis of soil bacterial communities after a prescribed burn and discuss the traits that bacteria might be using to thrive post-fire.

Register to attend this PhD defense on Zoom


Tuesday, August 13, 2024
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

2006 Rennebohm Hall

Madison, WI 53705

This event is brought to you by: Pharmaceutical Sciences Division