Arnav Gupta

 Arnav Gupta
Mentor: Dr. Andrew Ogram
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"I got involved with research simply because I enjoy learning about the scientific method and the process behind real tangible scientific discoveries. At its core, research in any field of science involves the same level of logical thinking and problem solving ability. The nuances of the scientific method are what really excite me and drive me to get involved with research."

Major

Applied Physiology and Kinesiology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Microbiology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Fitness and Human Performance

Academic Awards

  • UF University Scholars Program
  • Dean's List
  • National Merit Scholarship

Organizations

  • UF Wrestling Team
  • Gators for Haven Hospice

Volunteer

  • Historic Haile Homestead
  • Youth Combine

Hobbies and Interests

  • Lifting Weights
  • Performing at High Dive
  • Intramural Ultimate Frisbee

Research Description

Isolation and Identification of Phosphonate Degrading Microorganisms in the Florida Everglades and Belize Peatlands
In wetland areas where bioavailable phosphorus is limited, microorganisms have developed various mechanisms in order to access alternate sources of phosphorus. One such substitute source of phosphorus may be the phosphonate group which is present in the commercial herbicide known as glyphosate. The chemistry of phosphonates is highlighted by the very strong Carbon-Phosphorus bond that makes the phosphonate group a typically biounavailable source of phosphorus. There are microorganisms that are able to break this bond and use the phosphonate group but the phylogeny and physiology of these species are as of yet unknown. Our experiment utilized glyphosate as the sole source of phosphorus in growth medium inoculated with soils from two phosphorus-limited wetlands: the Florida Everglades and a Belize wetland subject to experimental phosphorus enrichment. These cultures were then systematically enriched and plated in order to observe the morphology of the microorganism colonies. In order to separate fungal and bacterial carriers of the phnD gene associated with phosphonate breakdown, colonies were streaked out on separate plates containing antibiotic and antifungal media. After purification of colonies, PCR was used to verify the presence of the aforementioned phnD gene in both fungal and bacterial organisms. This is of particular interest because of the implication of interconnected ancestry. The ability of the microrganisms to breakdown the Carbon-Phosphorus bond is also important because it shows that forms of phosphorus that were previously thought to be inactive are actually capable of being accessed and cycled in an ecosystem.