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  • Writer's pictureEnid Gonzalez-Orta

My Experiences as a Tiny Earthling by Cori D.

Student holding a pipet
Cori spotting his secondary metabolite extracts onto agar plates

Ever since I studied the complexity of microbes in General Microbiology, I have been extremely interested in bacteria and viruses! The coursework for microbiology was engaging, especially learning about how bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance.

When I heard about the class Diversity of Microorganisms at Sacramento State, I became very excited at the prospect of learning more about bacteria through a lab driven microbiology course.

My experience as a Tiny Earthling and student in this course has been unique. I have carried out lab protocols that are brand new to me, such as Safe ESKAPE patch testing and running gel electrophoresis. I will never forget the day when I saw my plates one morning at the beginning of the lab period and realized that one of my isolates was potentially producing a secondary metabolite against a safe ESKAPE relative!! This was really humbling and one of my most joyous memories of this course. It is also gratifying to know that each laboratory and discussion section I attend and am a part of is a tangible contribution to the field of science! This course has guided my

professional development as a future scientist as well, through helping me build

communication skills by presenting a scientific article, collaborating with fellow

classmates on laboratory procedures, staying up to date with current research on

secondary metabolites by listening to journal club presentations, practicing microbiology

lab techniques such as gram staining and microscopy, and overall, continuously working

on becoming a more confident scientist.

As a Tiny Earthling, I have learned many things about soil bacteria. This includes

the current antibiotic crisis, and that future health issues in this world could be a result of

this crisis. I have also been taught that soil bacteria is the reservoir for 75% of

antibiotics that are currently in use (Hurley et al., 2021, p. 2). Furthermore, I have

learned that over 99.9 % of bacteria in the soil remain uncultured, and new experimental

tools are being developed to culture these “uncultivable” bacteria (Nichols et al., 2009,

p. 1). I have also been educated on novel antibiotics that have been harvested from soil

bacteria such as Rhodococcus (Ward et al., 2018, p. 1).

My experience learning about microbes by doing research on secondary

metabolites produced by soil microbes has been intellectually stimulating and

rewarding. I look forward to further work on the Tiny Earth Project as a Tiny Earthling!

Hurley, A., Chevrette, M. G., Acharya, D. D., Lozano, G. L., Garavito, M., Heinritz, J.,

Balderrama, L., Beebe, M., DenHartog, M. L., Corinaldi, K., Engels, R., Gutierrez,

A., Jona, O., Putnam, J. H., Rhodes, B., Tsang, T., Hernandez, S.,

Bascom-Slack, C., Blum, J. E., … Handelsman, J. (2021). Tiny earth: A big idea

for STEM education and antibiotic discovery. MBio, 12(1), 1-7.

Nichols, D., Cahoon, N., Trakhtenberg, E. M., Pham, L., Mehta, A., Belanger, A.,

Kanigan, T., Lewis, K., & Epstein, S. S. (2010). Use of ichip for high-throughput in

situ cultivation of “uncultivable” microbial species. Applied and Environmental

Microbiology, 76(8), 2445–2450.

Ward, A. L., Reddyvari, P., Borisova, R., Shilabin, A. G., & Lampson, B. C. (2018).

An inhibitory compound produced by a soil isolate of Rhodococcus has strong

activity against the veterinary pathogen R. Equi. PLOS ONE, 13(12), 1-17.


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