Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Poison + water = hydrogen. New microbial genome shows how

05.12.2005


From a Russian volcanic island, a hot new find



Take a pot of scalding water, remove all the oxygen, mix in a bit of poisonous carbon monoxide, and add a pinch of hydrogen gas. It sounds like a recipe for a witch’s brew. It may be, but it is also the preferred environment for a microbe known as Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans.

In a paper published in the November 27th issue of PLoS Genetics, a research team led by scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) report the determination and analysis of the complete genome sequence of this organism. Isolated from a hot spring on the Russian volcanic island of Kunashir, this microbe lives almost entirely on carbon monoxide. While consuming this normally poisonous gas, the microbe mixes it with water, producing hydrogen gas as waste.


As the world increasingly considers hydrogen as a potential biofuel, technology could benefit from having the genomes of such microbes. "C. hydrogenoformans is one of the fastest-growing microbes that can convert water and carbon monoxide to hydrogen," remarks TIGR evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen, senior author of the PLoS Genetics study. "So if you’re interested in making clean fuels, this microbe makes an excellent starting point."

In sequencing the microbe’s genome, Eisen and his collaborators discovered why C. hydrogenoformans grows more rapidly on carbon monoxide than other species: The bug boasts at least five different forms of a protein machine, dubbed carbon monoxide deyhydrogenase, that is able to manipulate the poisonous gas. Each form of the machine appears to allow the organism to use carbon monoxide in a different way. Most other organisms that live on carbon monoxide have only one form of this machine. In other words, while other organisms may have the equivalent of a modest mixing bowl to process their supper of carbon monoxide, this species has a veritable food processor, letting it gorge on a hot spring buffet all day.

"The findings show the continued value of microbial genome sequencing for exploring the useful capabilities of the vast realm of microbial life on Earth," says Ari Patrinos, director of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science. DOE, which funded the study, is pursuing clean fuel technologies.

Little was known about this hydrogen-breathing organism before its genome sequence was determined. By utilizing computational analyses and comparison with the genomes of other organisms, the researchers have discovered several remarkable features. For example, the genome encodes a full suite of genes for making spores, a previously unknown talent of the microbe. Organisms that make spores have attracted great interest recently because this is a process found in the bacterium that causes anthrax. Sporulation allows anthrax to be used as a bioweopon because the spores are resistant to heat, radiation, and other treatments.

By comparing this genome to those of other spore-making species, including the anthrax pathogen, Eisen and colleagues identified what may be the minimal biochemical machinery necessary for any microbe to sporulate. Thus studies of this poison eating microbe may help us better understand the biology of the bacterium that causes anthrax.

Building off this work, TIGR scientists are leveraging the information from the genome of this organism to study the ecology of microbes living in diverse hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone National Park. They want to know what types of microbes are found in different hot springs--and why. To find out, the researchers are dipping into the hot springs of Yellowstone, Russia, and other far-flung locales, to isolate and decipher the genomes of microbes found there.

"What we want to have is a field guide for these microbes, like those available for birds and mammals," Eisen says. "Right now, we can’t even answer simple questions. Do similar hot springs, a world apart, share similar microbes? How do microbes move between hot springs? Our new work will help us find out."

Kathryn Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tigr.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>