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What’s up DGC?

Before the pandemic, I was finishing up my degree in biology and had the opportunity to conduct research on some soil microbes. The soil microbe species I predominantly worked with was Cellvibrio japonicusC. japonicus is a saprophytic soil microbe that was originally observed back in 1952 in a Japanese soil sample, and has since become an organism of interest in the field of biotechnology.

My research focused on observing the effects of the chitin-degrading enzymes produced by C. japonicus. Chitin samples were exposed to bacteria for different periods of time in an effort to demonstrate degradation over time. Chitin samples were then further subdivided into “Control”, “Wild Type”, and “DGSP” groups. “Control” samples were not exposed to any bacteria. “Wild Type” samples were exposed to bacteria that had not been altered in any way. “DGSP” samples were exposed to bacteria that had a deletion performed at a single point in the gene responsible for chitinase production (DGSP stands for “Deletion of Gene, Single Permutation)”.

  • As expected, the “Control” group did not exhibit any signs of chemical degradation as no bacteria were added. Some mechanical damage from handling the sample can be observed.
  • The “Wild Type” group showed very clear signs of chemical degradation from the chitinase produced by the C. japonicus. Additionally, the remains of bacteria can be seen near the sites of degradation (they are bacillus or capsule-shaped).
  • The “DGSP” group did not show any clear signs of chemical degradation, though some can potentially be seen at Time 02.

The data suggest that Cellvibrio japonicus readily degrades chitin. In addition to its various uses in biotechnology, C. japonicus could also prove useful in the garden. Being a saprophyte, C. japonicus degrades organic material which makes more nutrients available to nearby plants. The ability for C. japonicus to degrade chitin also makes it a useful addition to any composts containing chitinous material (e.g., insect frass, crab shells, lobster shells, fungal remains). Further research needs to be conducted to determine if C. japonicus is able to degrade the chitin of living specimens.

Here is a link to a slideshow containing images I obtained using a Nova Nano SEM450:

PDF of Chitinase Slideshow

Here is more information on Cellvibrio japonicus:



Keep it high and tight,

mikerobiological (Mike)