Melinda Capes, Ph.D.


Chemistry and Biochemistry 2012

Area of Doctoral Study: Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institute: California State University, San Marcos

Graduate Institute: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Research Advisor: Shiladitya DasSarma, Ph.D.

Current Position: Faculty, Los Medanos Community College

Description of Research

Extreme halophilic, “salt-loving,” Archaea are members of the third Domain of Life, thriving in hypersaline environments reaching saturating levels of sodium chloride, nine times the salinity of seawater. The unique position of Archaea in the Tree of Life makes these organisms fascinating. Archaea have characteristics of both Bacteria and Eukarya. For example, the archaeal genome structure is more similar to bacteria, while the information transfer macromolecules are eukaryotic-like. With the release of several haloarchaeal genomes I am using comparative genomics to identify haloarchaeal conserved proteins that likely play key roles in these organisms’ unique environmental adaptations as well as the conservation of the information transfer system of halophilic archaea.