Joshua O'Hair

Yellowstone National Park

Research Permit: YELL-2015-SCI-6074

Cellulolytic Bacteria and Fungi Isolated from Hydrothermal-Vegetative Environments


A great deal of research has been done to determine microbial specimens of hydrothermal features within Yellowstone Nation Park, however with regards to lignocellulolytic organisms there is room for research to expand. Unclassified heat tolerant lignin and cellulose degrading bacteria/fungi have been targeted with means of sequencing genomic data in order to isolate a new strain or gene with the ability to thrive at high temperatures.

With a non-invasive approach, 12 unidentified microbes have been cultivated in a laboratory environment, 5 of which possess cellulolytic capability per Congo red assay. All isolates were removed through sterile techniques from paint pots, geysers, and heated streams ranging in pH values of 1.0 to 8.0. Whole genome sequencing revealed 4 novel Bacillus licheniformis strains and 1 Bacillus altitudinis strain. 




Publications :

  1. OHair J.A., Li H, Thapa S, Scholz M, Zhou S. 2017. Draft genome sequence of Bacillus altitudinis YNP4-TSU, isolated from Yellowstone National Park. Genome Announc 5:e00631-17.
  2. OHair J.A., Li H., Thapa S., Scholz M., Zhou S. 2017. Draft genome sequences of three cellulolytic Bacillus licheniformis strains isolated from Imperial Geyser, Amphitheater Springs, and Whiterock Springs inside Yellowstone National Park. Genome Announc 5:e00065-17.
  3. OHair J.A., Li H., Thapa S., Scholz M.B., Zhou S. 2017. Draft genome sequence of Bacillus licheniformis strain YNP1-TSU isolated from Whiterock Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Genome Announc 5:e01496-16.
  4. OHair, J. A., Johnson, T.A., Ejiofor, A.O., Zhou, S. 2016. Reducing Inconsistent Cellulolytic Screenings during the Gram's Iodine Assay. Cellulose. doi: 10.1007/s10570-016-1027-6


  1. Joshua A. OHair. An alternative method to overcome inconsistent cellulolytic screenings when using gram's iodine. The Eighth International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology; Houston, TX. 2016 June 6-10 (oral presentation).
  2. Joshua A. OHair. Bioprospecting for cellulose and lignin modifying heat tolerant microorganisms. 13th Biennial Scientific Conference of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem; Jackson, WY October 3rd-4th 2016 (poster presentation.
  3. Association of 1890 Research Directors (ARD) April 1st-April 4th 2017 (oral presentation) Placed 1st  under Biofuel & Renewable Energy category.
  4. 2017 HBCU/MSI Research Summit, October 15-16 at Virginia Tech
  5. Placed 1st  at Annual University Wide, Tennessee State University, Research Symposium; March 30th-April 3rd 2015/2016/2017 (oral presentation).


  1. First place in Graduate Student Competitive Oral Presentation Association of Research Directors, ARD Research Symposium, Atlanta, GA. 2017
  2. First place in Graduate Oral presentation 37th Annual University-Wide Research Symposium, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN. 2015.




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Agricultural Sciences