Report highlights DOE Joint Genome Institute achievements

The U.S. Department of Energy investment in large-scale genome sequencing is paying dividends with powerful implications for the nation's energy and environmental clean-up needs, according to a report just released by the DOE Joint Genome Institute.

As the leading national user facility targeting microbes and microbial communities, plants, and aquatic organisms, DOE JGI is serving to close a critical gap of knowledge while unlocking the potential of this largely unexplored cache of the planet's living matter.

Highlights from the scores of significant projects tackled by DOE JGI between 2002 and 2005 include:

  • The poplar, the first tree to be sequenced, provides a resource to fully exploit the possibilities of trees--to grow faster, to convert biomass to fuel more effectively, to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere, and to clean up waste sites.
  • The diatom--this single-celled organism from the ocean absorbs the major greenhouse gas CO2 in amounts comparable to all the world's tropical rain forests combined.
  • Sulfate-reducing bacteria--a DOE Genomics:GTL program undertaking, has helped chart the previously unseen metabolic processes of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans G20, a microbe that has a robust appetite for such toxic metals as uranium and chromium.
  • White rot fungus, major player in the carbon cycle, is capable of efficiently degrading the tough plant polymer lignin, one of the most abundant natural materials on earth, and can remediate explosive contaminants, pesticides and toxic waste.

"By marshalling the resources of now five national laboratories, DOE JGI has driven down the cost of sequencing while generating world-class science for developing effective strategies for clean energy, environmental remediation, and carbon management," said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of DOE's Office of Science.

"During this extraordinarily productive period,

Contact: David Gilbert
DOE/Joint Genome Institute

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