Historic Microbe Sequenced in BER Microbial Genome Program


The complete 3.94 million base pair genome of the historic, chemical solvent-producing microbe, Clostridium acetobutylicum, has been sequenced by Douglas Smith at Genome Therapeutics Corp and annotated by Michael Daly of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The research supported by grants from the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program, has been published in the latest issue of Journal of Bacteriology. In 1916, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, working in Britain, discovered that C. acetobutylicum could manufacture acetone (desperately needed during World War 1 for munitions production) and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s gratitude to Weizmann figured importantly in the decision of the British government in 1917 to issue the Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish homeland in Palestine. When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, Weizmann became its first President. C. acetobutylicum, which can make ethanol and butanol as well as acetone, is the 10th complete microbial genome sequenced under BER Microbial Genome Program grants and published. An additional 9 microbial genomes have been completed but not yet published.