Versatile Waste-degrading Microbe Sequenced by JGI


In spite of the large number and diversity of microbial genomes sequenced by the DOE-Joint Genome Institute (JGI), unusual biology and metabolisms continue to be discovered. In the March 22, 2010, issue of PLoS ONE, scientists working with the JGI report the sequence of the proteobacterium Cupriavidus necator JMP134 that possesses 11 of the 12 main metabolic pathways used to break down chloroaromatic compounds, including chlorophenols, halobenzoates and nitrophenols. These organic contaminants are found at DOE and other waste sites, some contaminated by spilled fuels or solvents commonly identified as BTEX carcinogens (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene). This microbe is able to derive energy from these toxic compounds. C. necator was also shown to have genes commonly found in microbes that associate with plant roots and could play a role in the rhizobial communities critical to nutrient incorporation by plants, including Bioenergy relevant plants. The genome sequence will be useful to understand the basis for this microbe’s “versatile degradative abilities,” as well as providing insights into the evolution of multicomponent genomes.