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Systems Biology for Energy and the Environment

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Genomic Science Program

The Institute for Genomic Research Partners Complete Sequence of Corrosive Bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris

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 to give 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.

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