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

BER Research Highlights

New Approach to Understand Microbial Gene Function
Published: September 20, 2010
Posted: November 03, 2010

Understanding the functions of the thousands of genes found in a microbial genome is a difficult but important challenge. Derek Lovley and his team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have used a new approach that combines several experiment-based predictions of gene function (called "annotations") to understand the biology of Geobacter sulfurreducens, a microbe with important roles in bioremediation of contaminant metals. The team integrated data on messenger RNA transcription, RNA translation into proteins, and biochemical data obtained under a variety of conditions to achieve a more precise and comprehensive annotation of Geobacter. Their approach resulted in the identification of previously undetected genes and other features in the Geobacter, genome such as "antisense" transcripts, that could be tentatively linked to functions and Geobacter's regulatory complexity. This new, experimental-based approach to predicting gene function reveals a much greater richness in gene expression phenomena than approaches based solely on DNA sequence or comparisons with other sequenced microbes.

Reference: Qiu Y, Cho BK, Park YS, Lovley D, Palsson Bø, Zengler K. "Structural and operational complexity of the Geobacter sulfurreducens genome," Genome Res. 2010 (Sept.); 20, 1304-11.

Contact: Dan Drell, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4742, Marvin Stodolsky, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4475
Topic Areas:

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

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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