Zhulin said the findings "will allow predicting how individual bacteria will use their 'vehicle' to get where they want to be, which is very important in order to be able to fight pathogenic organisms that direct their movement toward weak spots of our bodies."
At the same time, ORNL researchers are making use of the findings in advanced bioenergy research.
"These same issues of microbial 'navigation,' or so-called chemotaxis, are important for microbial processing of biofuels," said Paul Gilna, director of the ORNL-led DOE BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), a DOE Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Department's Office of Science. "That's why we were pleased to co-sponsor this research with the National Institutes of Health and leverage NIH resources to learn more about this process."
BESC is searching for new cost-effective ways, using microbes, to convert plant cellulose to biofuels, a "green" alternative to oil and coal.
"Cellulases from microbial sources are key enzymes in this process and come in different shapes and forms that are difficult to decipher from DNA sequence alone," said Gilna. "This study gives us a powerful computational approach that we can now use to reveal new types of cellulolytic enzymes, as well as provide us with deeper insights into complex regulatory pathways that control their activity."
"This work could significantly aid in our goal of producing microbes that are capable of carrying out all the steps in processing fuels from plant feedstocks," Gilna added. "In this approach, which we term Consolidat
|Contact: Barbara Penland|
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory