BER Funds Microbial Research at Michigan State University


The DOE Office of Public Affairs has published a press release that describes a Biological and Environmental Research-funded Michigan State University (MSU) grant for Microbial Research. Dr. George Garrity and colleagues will conduct research on the patterns of microbial evolution and the relationships among species. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham is quoted as saying, “This research will provide scientists valuable information as they try to understand the biology and the potential uses of newly discovered species of microbes. Application of this information could lead to improved pollution cleanup techniques and more efficient bio-energy production.” Dr. Garrity, the principal investigator for the two-year grant, is a professor of microbiology at Michigan State University and the Editor-in-Chief of Bergey’s Manual, a widely-used, international reference work for bacterial taxonomy. MSU researchers and their colleagues will use a variety of powerful statistical analytic methods to cluster more accurately microbial species so that their relationships to each other are clearer and more consistent with what is known about their biology. With rapidly growing data sets and an even more rapidly growing number of relationships among the data, powerful computers are required to carry out the research. An organism’s evolutionary relationship can be represented in a number of different ways that are not mutually consistent, depending on just which DNA sequence pieces are used. The research will work to resolve apparent paradoxes such as this. This research is funded as part of the Microbial Genome Program.