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Poison + water = hydrogen. New microbial genome shows how

continued value of microbial genome sequencing for exploring the useful capabilities of the vast realm of microbial life on Earth," says Ari Patrinos, director of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science. DOE, which funded the study, is pursuing clean fuel technologies.

Little was known about this hydrogen-breathing organism before its genome sequence was determined. By utilizing computational analyses and comparison with the genomes of other organisms, the researchers have discovered several remarkable features. For example, the genome encodes a full suite of genes for making spores, a previously unknown talent of the microbe. Organisms that make spores have attracted great interest recently because this is a process found in the bacterium that causes anthrax. Sporulation allows anthrax to be used as a bioweopon because the spores are resistant to heat, radiation, and other treatments.

By comparing this genome to those of other spore-making species, including the anthrax pathogen, Eisen and colleagues identified what may be the minimal biochemical machinery necessary for any microbe to sporulate. Thus studies of this poison eating microbe may help us better understand the biology of the bacterium that causes anthrax.

Building off this work, TIGR scientists are leveraging the information from the genome of this organism to study the ecology of microbes living in diverse hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone National Park. They want to know what types of microbes are found in different hot springs--and why. To find out, the researchers are dipping into the hot springs of Yellowstone, Russia, and other far-flung locales, to isolate and decipher the genomes of microbes found there.

"What we want to have is a field guide for these microbes, like those available for birds and mammals," Eisen says. "Right now, we can't even answer simple questions. D
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Source:The Institute for Genomic Research


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