The World and I Highlights BER Microbial Genome Program


The January 2002 issue of The World and I prominently features results from the DOE Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Microbial Genome Program in a major article titled “Great Expectations of Small Genomes” by staff writer Dinshaw Dadachanji, and boldly notes that “Ongoing efforts to sequence the DNA of various microorganisms are fueled by the promise that the information gained will boost advances in such areas as medicine, energy production, environmental cleanup, and industrial processes.” The focus of BER’s Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research (NABIR) program includes microbial bioremediation as a particular emphasis and the majority of the microbes sequenced under the sponsorship of the Microbial Genome program have demonstrated relevance to bioremediation, energy production, and global climate processes. The article further notes that “Shewanella oneidensis, a bacterium that can grow in water and soil, can consume toxic organic wastes and precipitate certain heavy metals–including radioactive uranium–from solution. This ability could be used to trap and remove uranium from a contaminated stream.” BER-supported researchers at the DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory are now placing hundreds of its DNA segments on microarrays to find genes that might be useful for environmental remediation.