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Genome of marine organism reveals hidden secrets
Date:5/9/2011

range of other bacteria, muddying a clear picture of the genome. The team undertook several different research tactics and experiments, including single cell genome amplification, protein and metabolite profiling.

The results revealed a complex gene network suggesting an enhanced ability of the organism to adapt to shifting conditions in the marine environment.

Sequencing was done at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany and at the J.Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland. Much of the assembly was conducted by Sheila Podell, a project scientist in the Eric Allen laboratory at Scripps. Jones and Monroe traced the genomic pathways and performed tests to understand which genes encoded the production of different natural products.

Yet as much as the genome revealed about Lyngbya majuscula 3L, the researchers also uncovered key information about its limitations and shortcomings. For example, it's been assumed that Lyngbya majuscula 3L and its cousins in the Lyngbya genus convert, or "fix," nitrogen from the atmosphere into organic molecules, a fundamental natural process in the global environment. To their surprise, Lyngbya majuscula 3L lacks the genes necessary for nitrogen fixation, even though reports exist that this species fixes nitrogen.

"It's possible that strains of L. majuscula reported to fix nitrogen may have been misidentified because it is visually very similar to other filamentous cyanobacteria species and we found that this marine strain doesn't seem capable of fixing nitrogen on its own," said Monroe. "This feature could be a distinction between the freshwater and the marine strains of what is currently characterized as Lyngbya."'

And while marine Lyngbya strains are proven prolific generators of natural products with biomedical and pharmaceutical potential, the new study shows that more work is needed to pinpoint which species generates which natural products. Jones says that more tha
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Contact: Mario Aguilera or Robert Monroe
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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