My project in a nut shell

My research project focuses on the mutation rate of the poly-C region of the genome of Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium commonly known to cause stomach ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer. The project’s aim is to address the question of whether or not the high mutation rate of the poly-C region of the genome is unique to H. pylori. This poly-C region is within the arsS gene that encodes a sensory kinase, which is apart of a two-component signal transduction pathway that allows the bacterium to adapt to changing environment conditions. My research professor and I have hypothesized that H. pylori has a uniquely high mutation rate of this poly-C region because it has a relatively small genome and is restricted ecologically to the gastric mucosa, and thus relies more heavily on phase variation to enhance genetic diversity. On the contrary, E. coli has a larger genome and devotes more energy to the use of transcription factors to increase genetic diversity. My project is centered on comparing the mutation rate of the poly-C region within these two bacterial species. The experimental procedure consists of a colony counting procedure and a procedure that analyzes the different poly-C lengths within bacterial populations using an automated sequencer.