A team of scientists led by the Institute
for Genomic Research (TIGR) has sequenced the genome of Desulfovibrio
vulgaris, a sulfate-reducing bacterium that can damage oil and natural
gas pipelines and corrode oilfield equipment. The microbe takes part
in a process called microbially influenced corrosion (MIC), in which
bacteria act together to create a biofilm that covers metal pipelines
or equipment. MIC has caused "staggering" economic losses at
industrial sites around the world, according to TIGR. It is expected
that analysis of the microbe's genes will help minimize such damage.
In their analysis of the D. vulgaris genome, scientists found
a network of c-type cytochromes—proteins that facilitate electron
transfer and metal reduction during energy metabolism and are thought
the organism a significant capacity for reducing metals. The organism
could be used to help remediate pollutants such as uranium and chromium,
the researchers said. In addition to TIGR, the sequencing team included
scientists from the University of Calgary, the University of Missouri-Columbia,
Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University Medical Center.
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Microbial Genome Program,
was reported in the May 2004 issue of Nature Biotechnology.
BER BSSD funds the Genomic Science Program