Researchers in Germany looked at the minimum standards used to compare the genetic material of new bacteria to well-known types and found that increasing the threshold for one genomic test could remove the need to carry out a second, more difficult test.
“Describing new bacterial species is a highly demanding process,” says Professor Erko Stackebrandt of the German Collection of Micro-organisms and Cell Cultures in Braunschweig, Germany. “It involves a broad range of tests set by international committees and only a few labs have access to all of the methods needed.”
Two of these standard tests look specifically at the genome of an organism and compare it to that of other known bacteria. It is these genomic tests that Professor Stackebrandt and his colleagues concentrated on to help speed up the process of identifying new species.
To study how different bacteria relate to each other, microbiologists use 16S rRNA gene analysis. This can be helped by using an additional technique called DNA-DNA hybridisation to show how closely related two species are.
“We found that by raising the threshold of 16S rRNA from the current level of 97.5% to 98.7% could have prevented nearly two-thirds of the more difficult DNA-DNA hybridisations that were carried out”, explains Professor Stackebrandt. “And if the 16S rRNA threshold was increased further, to 99%, then nine out of 10 DNA-DNA hybridisations could have been avoided, without any loss of scientific accuracy in the classifications of the new species.”
There are 400-600 descriptions of new bacteria every year, but it is estimated that up to one billion new species are still waiting to be isolated and named. These bacteria could be holding the keys to speeding up industrial processes, cleaning up the environment, or creating new drugs for human diseases. By reducing the work needed to describe a new species, microbiologists could significantly increase the number of new microbiological products.
Other features in the November 2006 issue of Microbiology Today include:· ‘Species’ (page 148)
Faye Stokes | alfa
Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine