The microbe, Desulfovibrio vulgaris, plays a role in a process called microbially-influenced corrosion (MIC), which has caused staggering economic losses in the petroleum industry and at other industrial sites around the world. Such corrosion is caused by bacteria acting together in a biofilm that covers metal pipelines or equipment.
The analysis of the microbe's genes is expected to help researchers find better ways to minimize such damage as well as to develop methods to use such microbes to help remediate metallic pollutants such as uranium and chromium.
Desulfovibrio is a model for the study of sulfate-reducing bacteria, which use hydrogen, organic acid, or alcohols as electron donors to "reduce" (that is, add electrons to) certain metals, including uranium. Other sequenced microbes that are capable of such reduction include Shewanella oneidensis and Geobacter sulfurreducens, both of which were sequenced at TIGR.
"This genome will be a valuable asset to the community of scientists around the world who are studying the sulfate-reducing bacteria and their role in corrosion," says John Heidelberg, the TIGR assistant investigator who led the sequencing project.
The study, to be published in the May 2004 issue of Nature Biotechnology and posted on the journal's website this week, was supported by the Microbial Genome Program of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
In their analysis of the D. vulgaris genome, scientists found a network of c-type cytochromes proteins which facilitate electron transfers and metal reduction during the organism's energy metabolism. The presence of those c-type cytochrome genes are thought to give D. vulgar
Contact: Robert Koenig
The Institute for Genomic Research