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Friday, July 29, 2005



Subzero Bacteria's Genome Sequenced

C. psychrerythraea strain 34H.  The black lines indicate the movement of the cells.<br>
C. psychrerythraea strain 34H. The black lines indicate the movement of the cells.

Credit: "Motility of Colwellia psychrerythraea Strain 34H at Subzero Temperatures," Karen Junge, Hajo Eicken, and Jody W. Deming
Colwellia psychrerythraea 34H normally lives between -1C and 10C, but can live colder. In fact, the bacteria cannot live at normal temperatures. The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and collaborators have sequenced C. psychrerythraea's genome to try to figure out why. They found that some of the 4,937 genes code for polyunsaturated fatty acids in the cell membrane that resist freezing, polyester compounds that offer extra energy reserves, protective solutes inside cells, and ordinary enzymes altered to function in chilly seawater. The bacteria also takes mommy's advice; it dresses in layers: the cell has polysaccharides coating its cell membrane. The researchers compared its genome and proteome to other bacteria (living at normal and high temperatures) to find the differences.

Now that these genes are known, it would be possible to splice them into other bacteria to help them live at frigid temperatures better. One possible use would be helping bacteria survive better on Mars.

(More info: TIGR)


- posted by Jim @ 9:56 EST