Project description:Metschnikowia reukaufii is a widespread yeast able to grow in the plants' floral nectaries, an environment of extreme conditions with sucrose concentrations exceeding 400 g l-1 , which led us into the search for enzymatic activities involved in this sugar use/transformation. New oligosaccharides were produced by transglucosylation processes employing M. reukaufii cell extracts in overload-sucrose reactions. These products were purified and structurally characterized by MS-ESI and NMR techniques. The reaction mixture included new sugars showing a great variety of glycosidic bonds including ?-(1?1), ?-(1?3) and ?-(1?6) linkages. The main product synthesized was the trisaccharide isomelezitose, whose maximum concentration reached 81 g l-1 , the highest amount reported for any unmodified enzyme or microbial extract. In addition, 51 g l-1 of the disaccharide trehalulose was also produced. Both sugars show potential nutraceutical and prebiotic properties. Interestingly, the sugar mixture obtained in the biosynthetic reactions also contained oligosaccharides such as esculose, a rare trisaccharide with no previous NMR structure elucidation, as well as erlose, melezitose and theanderose. All the sugars produced are naturally found in honey. These compounds are of biotechnological interest due to their potential food, cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical applications.
Project description:Currently, one of the most important challenges is to provide sufficient and affordable food and energy for a fast-growing world population, alongside preserving natural habitats and maintaining biodiversity. About 35% of the global food production depends on animals for pollination. In recent years, an alarming worldwide decline in pollinators has been reported, putting our food production under additional pressure. Therefore, there is an urgent need to find sustainable ways to ensure this crucial ecosystem service. Recent studies have shown that floral nectar is generally colonized by microorganisms, specifically yeasts and bacteria, which may alter nectar chemistry and enhance attraction of pollinators. In this study, we investigated changes in pollinator foraging behavior and pollination success in European pear (Pyrus communis L.) cultivars 'Regal Red' and 'Sweet Sensation' (red sports of 'Doyenné de Comice') after flower inoculation with the typical nectar-inhabiting microorganisms Metschnikowia reukaufii and Acinetobacter nectaris, and a combination of both. Pollination success was monitored by measuring the number of flower visits, fruit set and seed set in two consecutive years, 2019 and 2020. Results revealed that application of a mixture of M. reukaufii and A. nectaris resulted in significantly higher visitation rates of honeybees and hoverflies. By contrast, no effects on flower visits were found when yeasts and bacteria were applied separately. Fruit set and seed set were not significantly affected by any of the inoculation treatments. The only factors affecting fruit set were initial number of flower clusters on the trees and the year. The absence of treatment effects can most likely be attributed to the fact that pollination was not a limiting factor for fruit set in our experiments. Altogether, our results show that inoculation of flowers with nectar microbes can modify pollinator foraging patterns, but did not lead to increased pollination success under the conditions tested.
Project description:The human serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) transporter (hSERT) is responsible for the reuptake of 5-HT following synaptic release, as well as for import of the biogenic amine into several non-5-HT synthesizing cells including platelets. The antidepressant citalopram blocks SERT and thereby inhibits the transport of 5-HT. To identify key residues establishing high-affinity citalopram binding, we have built a comparative model of hSERT and Drosophila melanogaster SERT (dSERT) based on the Aquifex aeolicus leucine transporter (LeuT(Aa)) crystal structure. In this study, citalopram has been docked into the homology model of hSERT and dSERT using RosettaLigand. Our models reproduce the differential binding affinities for the R- and S-isomers of citalopram in hSERT and the impact of several hSERT mutants. Species-selective binding affinities for hSERT and dSERT also can be reproduced. Interestingly, the model predicts a hydrogen bond between E444 in transmembrane domain 8 (TM8) and Y95 in TM1 that places Y95 in a downward position, thereby removing Y95 from a direct interaction with S-citalopram. Mutation of E444D results in a 10-fold reduced binding affinity for S-citalopram, supporting the hypothesis that Y95 and E444 form a stabilizing interaction in the S-citalopram/hSERT complex.