TODAY IN OUR LAB: Bacillus haynesii
Bacillus haynesii, a bacterium with a penchant for the dramatic, was first discovered playing hide and seek in the soil of Evolution Canyon, a place where only the hardiest of microbes dare to tread.This Gram-positive, rod-shaped, spore-forming bacterium is a facultative anaerobe, meaning it can switch between breathing oxygen and holding its breath when the going gets tough.
It’s a bit of a social butterfly in the microbial world, forming circular colonies that are the envy of its peers. Not one to be pigeonholed, B. haynesii has been found moonlighting in various environments, from the salty embrace of marine habitats to the cozy confines of plant tissues. It’s even been caught synthesizing nano-sized levan at temperatures that would make most bacteria break a sweat, from a chilly 4 °C all the way up to a scorching 95 °C.
But B. haynesii isn’t just about surviving in extreme conditions; it’s also a bit of a culinary wizard. It can whip up a novel exopolysaccharide (EPS) that’s got food scientists excited for its potential applications. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also been seen helping out in the production of bioethanol, teaming up with fungi to turn chitin into fuel.
In the world of bacteria, B. haynesii is somewhat of a celebrity, with its genome sequenced and its proteins cataloged, making it a star in the databases of NCBI. It’s also been spotted aiding in the green synthesis of zinc oxide nanoparticles, a testament to its versatility and eco-friendly vibe.
Despite its many talents, B. haynesii remains humble, content with its role in improving the production of enzymes like xylanase for paper processing and acid phosphatase for making rock phosphate more plant-friendly. It’s a bacterium that doesn’t just survive; it thrives, contributing to various biotechnological applications while living life on the microbial edge.