Like a parent, HIR is justifiably proud of the achievements of its researchers, especially the young student scientists involved with cutting edge research working alongside academic icons and even Nobel Laureates. Here are three examples of the successes achieved by the trio, Chong Teik Min, Robson Ee and Lim Yan Lue, all working on HIR funded projects under the supervision of Dr. Chan Kok Gan from ISB, Faculty of Science.
At the National Postgraduate Fundamental and Applied Sciences Seminar (NPFASS, 14-15 June 2014) held in Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kampar, Perak, three UM post-graduate students received three of the four prizes awarded during the seminar. Chong Teik Min received the Best Poster Award for his work on heavy metal resistance of Pseudomonas mendocina that was isolated from vineyard soil in France. Teik Min used the latest NGS platform of Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) available in Central HIR in search of the copper resistance genes via whole genome sequencing which has been proven invaluable to solve bacteria genome and uncover its genomic make-up. In his work, Teik Min also presented the possibility of these genes to be applied for bioremediation of heavy metal contamination sites. This work is the result of the long-term collaboration between Dr. Chan Kok Gan and Professor Yves Dessaux, Research Director of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, with the support of HIR MoHE and the French Embassy in Malaysia.
The Best Oral Paper Award winner, Robson Ee presented his work on the topic “Mystery in Pandoraea cystic fibrosis infection solved?” using quorum sensing (QS) as the possible new lead in unravelling Pandoraea infection in cystic fibrosis patients with his previous discovery of QS activity from a soil isolated Pandoraea sp. RB-44. Both QS synthase and transcriptional regulator were identified from the complete genome of Pandoraea sp. RB-44 sequenced using SMRT NGS. With his continuous efforts to prove this theory, Robson also presented that cystic fibrosis clinical isolates of Pandoraea species also exhibited QS activity. Robson’s work on Pandoraea spp. has attracted the attention of Dr Louise Roddam from the School of Medicine, University of Tasmania (Australia), who is currently collaborating with Dr Chan by using the SMRT to solve the research question that both teams have common interest: QS in Pandoraea spp.
Another Best Oral Paper Award winner was Lim Yan Lue for her presentation on “The language of Serratia fonticola – A Multilingual Bacteria”. In her oral paper, Yan Lue presented on the discovery of a unique strain of Serratia fonticola which represents the first discovery on such strain that displays QS properties. Using a series of biosensors and cutting edge analytical chemistry instruments, namely high resolution quadrupole mass spectrometry available in the Central HIR, she provided unequivocal identification of three different types of QS autoinducer (N-acyl-homoserine lactone molecules), a phenotype that was first reported in this particular species. Using SMRT, she managed to unveil the role of QS in this strain via whole genome sequencing. Yan Lue also presented her work on the first complete assembled genome of a single chromosome which effortlessly permitted the identification of the AHL synthase and receptor homologues in the genome of this QS strain. This work has attracted Nobel Laureate, Sir Robert Richard from the NEB Lab (Boston, USA), to join Dr. Chan’s team on bacterial genome work.