Genomes to Life: Putting Microbes to Work

Genomics and Its Impact on Science and Society: The Human Genome Project and Beyond
Methanococcus jannaschii
Produces methane, an important energy source; contains enzymes that withstand high temperatures and pressures; possibly useful for industrial processes.
Deinococcus radiodurans
Survives extremely high levels of radiation and has high potential for radioactive waste cleanup.
Thalassiosira pseudonana
Ocean diatom that is major participant in biological pumping of carbon to ocean depths and has potential for mitigating global climate change.
The DOE Microbial Genome Program
(MGP) studies the DNA of microbes that may be useful in helping DOE fulfill its missions in energy production, environmental waste cleanup, and mitigation of the effects of global climate change. (For more information, see MGP Web site (


A Potential Application of Knowledge Gained in GTL Research
Learning about the inner workings of microbes can lead to discovery of ways to isolate and use their components to develop new, synthetic nanostructures that carry out some of the functions of living cells.

In this figure, an enzyme (green) has been embedded in a synthetic membrane that enhances its activity and stability. The enzyme transforms toxic substances (purple molecules at left) to harmless by-products (yellow and red molecules at right). [C. Lei, Y. Shin, J. Liu, and E. J. Ackerman (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), J. Am. Chem. Soc. 124, 11242–43 (2002)]

The knowledge gained from Genomes to Life research could enable others to develop efficient enzyme-based ways to produce energy, remove or inactivate contaminants, and store carbon to mitigate global climate change. Other potential highly useful applications are food processing, pharmaceuticals, separations, and the production of industrial chemicals.

The online presentation of this publication is a special feature of the Human Genome Project Information Web site.

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Last edited Sun Oct 01 20:12:04 2006.