U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

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Methane-Producing Microbe Sequenced by Team at University of Washington
Published: November 15, 2004
Posted: December 02, 2004

A team of 31 scientists, headed by John Leigh of the University of Washington in Seattle, including Miriam Land and Frank Larimer of the Oak Ridge National Lab, has sequenced, annotated, and analyzed the complete genome of a methane-producing microbe, Methanococcus maripaludis. M. maripaludis generates energy (and "waste" methane) by combining hydrogen and CO2. This Archaeon, a representative of the possibly oldest branch of the tree of life, contains 1,722 protein-coding genes in a single circular chromosome of 1,661,137 bp. Of the protein-coding genes (open reading frames [ORFs]), 44% were assigned a function, 48% were conserved but had unknown or uncertain functions, and 7.5% (129 ORFs) were unique to M. maripaludis. Genes for most of the previously known functions and pathways were identified. For example, a full complement of enzymes for using hydrogen to make methane was identified. Methane (natural gas) is a commonly used, very low polluting energy source in municipal bus fleets in a number of cities and microbial production of methane is a possible option for generating this renewable energy source.

Contact: Dan Drell, SC-72, (301) 903-4742
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-72 Life Sciences Division, OBER)

 

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