Genome Institute Reaches Milestone with a Mighty Microbe

May 08, 2007

Shewanella baltica OS185 is a tiny, ocean-dwelling microbe that could be an answer to cleaning up certain kinds of radioactive contamination, but for a few days this month the microbe is in the spotlight at Los Alamos for another reason. Los Alamos scientists working as part of the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) recently finished the genetic code of Shewanella baltica OS185 as its 100th genomic sequence.

Finishing a genome is the process of finding and eliminating any gaps in sections of genetic code that were not initially sequenced correctly by automated sequencing methods.

"The finishing of S. baltica is being celebrated as a Los Alamos milestone for a couple reasons," said Chris Detter, leader of the JGI Sequencing Technology Team, "Not only is it our 100th completed genomic sequence, but it's also appropriate because S. baltica has shown potential for use in confining and cleaning up uranium-contaminated areas, such as the Laboratory's legacy waste sites. The microbe might someday be put to work right here at Los Alamos for the bioremediation of uranium contamination at nuclear waste sites because of its unique abilities."

While solid in most forms, uranium can break down over time in the natural environment leading to the possible contamination of groundwater. Taken from the depths of the Baltic Sea, the S. baltica microbe has a unique ability to convert uranium dissolved in groundwater into an insoluble form called uranium dioxide, or uraninite, which prevents the uranium from mixing with water and from migrating into and with groundwater flows.

Los Alamos specializes in developing techniques to take raw sequence data from the high-throughput JGI facility in Walnut Creek, California, and transform it into finished genomes. The Laboratory began finishing sequences for JGI in 2003. Making advancements in genome technology and chemistry over the years, more components of the process have become automated, speeding up finishing rates as a result.

In addition to Detter, other leaders in the JGI-LANL include David Bruce, Tom Brettin, and Cliff Han, and 35 exceptional scientists, technicians, and support staff.

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting to the core of Fukushima

Aug 07, 2013

Critical to the recovery efforts following the devastating effects of the 2011 tsunami on Japan's Fukushima reactor is the ability to assess damage within the reactor's core. A study in the journal AIP Advances by a team ...

Physicists find new order in quantum electronic material

Jan 30, 2013

Two Rutgers physics professors have proposed an explanation for a new type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium – a theory that may one day lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems ...

Plutonium at 150 years

Dec 17, 2012

Planning the future needs of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile as well as the nuclear weapons complex depends in part on maintaining confidence in the long-term stability of the pit, or core, of plutonium-239 ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...