Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 on a per molecule basis although far more CO2 than methane is released into the atmosphere. Methane production and oxidation (usually conversion to methanol) is a common property of many bacteria. To better understand the basis for bacterial methane processing and its potential role in the global greenhouse gas cycle, the genome sequence of a methane-oxidizing microbe, Methylosinus trichosporium, has now been published. This microbe has been used to elucidate the structure and function of several key enzymes that oxidize methane. In particular, the catalytic properties of a soluble methane monooxygenase enzyme from this bacterium have been studied extensively as it is also involved in biodegradation of recalcitrant hydrocarbons, such as trichloroethylene. The sequence of this bacterium's genome should provide insights into both methane processing and organic contaminant degradation. The sequencing was carried out by the DOE Joint Genome Institute as part of its Community Sequencing user Program.
Reference: Stein, L.Y., et.al. December 2010. "Genome Sequence of the Obligate Methanotroph Methylosinus trichosporium Strain OB3b," Journal of Bacteriology, 192, 6497-98.
Contact: Dan Drell, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4742
SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
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