Consortium for Archaeal Genomics and Proteomics established at Penn State

The Consortium for Archaeal Genomics and Proteomics has been established at Penn State under the leadership of James G. Ferry with support from the National Science Foundation, anticipated to exceed $1.3-million over the next four years. The consortium will research the structure and function of the genes and proteins of organisms classified in the Archaea--the grouping that is thought to include the organisms living today with the most ancient evolutionary lineages.

Of the three domains in which living things are classified, the Archaea domain is likely the least familiar to most people--but Ferry and his research team aim to make it much more well known to scientists by revealing many of its secrets. Unlike organisms in the other two domains--the Bacteria and the Eucarya, which include plants, animals, fungi, algae, and other familiar organisms--the Archaea domain includes exotic forms of bacteria that live in extreme environments such as hot springs and salt lakes.

"Our efforts are expected to greatly expand the knowledge of novel biochemical and molecular biological characteristics of the Archaea, some of which are totally unique while others are a blend that appears to be 'borrowed' from both the Bacteria and Eucarya," Ferry says. The consortium's results are expected to contribute to a fundamental understanding of the Bacteria and Eucarya domains, as well.

The consortium is a collaborative research effort lead by Penn State that includes researchers at the Whitehead/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Institute for Genomic Research, the University of the City of Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Maryland Center for Marine Biotechnology.

The model organism chosen for the project was first discovered by Ferry's laboratory living in oxygen-starved marine sediments from the Scripps canyon near La Jolla Shores in California. This species, named Methanosarcina acetivorans, ranks as the most metabolically diverse

Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
Penn State

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