LUCAS

My name is Lucas, I am 22 years old, and I am doing an internship at the CMBI in Nijmegen.

Working with computers has always been a hobby of mine. This, combined with my interest in biology and evolution makes it the perfect internship for me. During my internship, I study bacteria. Although they are among the smallest organisms on earth, their biological importance is enormous. This is due to the vast numbers in which they appear. A few examples of import bacteria are bacteria that transform CO2 into oxygen which can be found in the ocean. Your intestines also host a large variety of bacteria that can influence your health both in a positive and a negative way.

Until recent years, getting an overview of a large population of micro-organisms was quite hard and expensive. Because DNA sequencing has become faster and cheaper this problem can be solved. I study metagenomes, DNA of a whole population of micro-organisms.

Samples from all kinds of environments are purified and then all DNA in the sample is sequenced. Software is used to put the short DNA sequences together to form genes. This way you obtain an overview of all genes of different species that occur in a certain environment. By analysing these genes I can find out what kind of biological processes take place in a group of organisms. For example, when I find multiple genes that are linked to the disposal of certain metals, I can conclude that this environment is polluted and that micro-organisms need to dispose of these metals to survive. This is what I like about my research, it enhances the understanding of all kinds of lifeforms.