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Scientists sequence genome of the N2-fixing, soil-living bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii
Date:6/17/2009

enome allowed the team of researchers to identify the genes involved in respiration, including those responsible for respiratory protection. Genome analysis helped pinpoint the chromosomal location of the three known oxygen-sensitive nitrogenases, as well as the genes that code for other oxygen-sensitive enzymes such as carbon-monoxide dehydrogenase and a formate dehydrogenase. The sequence also provided important information on the genes that code for alginate, a polymer that further protects the organism from excess oxygen by forming a physical barrier around the bacterium.

"A. vinelandii is an attractive model organism for biochemical studies because of its ability to produce high yields of quality enzymes," said Joo Setubal, associate professor at VBI and the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. "The findings in this study provide new prospects for the wider application of this bacterium as a factory for the production and characterization of oxygen-sensitive proteins through the use of genetic approaches to achieve high-level protein expression."

According to Ray Dixon, project lead in Molecular Biology at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom, "The international collaboration created by the Azotobacter genome project was an integral part of the discovery of these unexpected anaerobic processes in A. vinelandii, which confirmed the importance of this organism as a host for the expression and purification of oxygen-sensitive enzymes."

The work will also provide more information about the unique biosynthetic pathways involved in the bacteria's ability to adapt its metabolism to diverse sources of nutrients. For example, if no carbon source is present, A. vinelandii will undergo a differentiation process, forming cysts that are resistant to desiccation and other chemical and physical challenges.

A. vinelandii belongs to the Pseudomonadaceae family. The completion of the A. vine
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Contact: Susan Bland
subland@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-7912
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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