NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Indiana University and University of Southern California researchers will use a grant of up to $6.3 million from the US Department of Defense to study bacteria genomes in order to understand the causes of mutations, the rates at which they occur, and whether the location of mutations may be predictable.
The funding from DOD will include $3.6 million over three years of research and potentially another $2.6 million for an optional two more years, IU said today.
The researchers at IU and USC will use high-throughput technologies to cultivate large amounts of data from mutation accumulation experiments in E. coli, and then will use bioinformatics approaches to analyze that data.
Along with studying mutations in E. coli, the researchers will estimate the full spectrum of mutational characteristics of around two dozen other bacteria species, which IU said will provide an "unprecedented understanding of microbial evolution."
The researcher plan to determine the contributions that pathways for DNA repair make to the genomic mutation rate, to determine the extent to which cellular stress responses impact the mutational rate, and to assess the mutational response to common growth conditions.
The project also aims to develop an understanding of microbial mutation rates and to test a model for evolution of genomic base composition, and to develop a new class of population-genetic models for understanding how the rate of mutation itself evolves, according to IU.