Variovorax paradoxus is a β-proteobacterium typically found in the region where the plant roots interact with soil and has the ability to engage in mutually beneficial interactions with both plants and other bacterial species. The bacterium also has the ability to break down a wide range of contaminants including pesticides and crude oil compounds, and has been shown to be tolerant of heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury.
Variovorax paradoxus S110 air-dried on a filter but attached to a glass coupon at 10K mag. (Image courtesy of Andrew Cajigal)
The bacterium’s ability to promote plant growth by breaking down toxic contaminants factored into the decision to include V. paradoxus S110 in the 2008 Community Sequencing Program portfolio.
In a study published online ahead of print December 23, 2010 in the Journal of Bacteriology, CSP project lead Jong-In Han of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and including DOE JGI’s Galina Ovchinnikova, Lynne Goodwin and Cliff Han described the 6.7 million-base pair genome, first of the Variovorax genus to be sequenced.
The bacterium was sequenced using the whole genome shotgun method at the DOE JGI, and the team identified genes that are involved in carbon dioxide fixation and provide the ability to metabolize hydrogen gas and sulfur compounds for energy.
Han and his colleagues noted that the genomic analysis indicated the bacterium has “superb adaptability” that allows V. paradoxus to survive in a number of environments both alone and in a symbiotic relationship. “Because it has many associations with other biota,” they added, “it is also suited to serve as an additional model system for studies of microbe-plant and microbe-microbe interactions.”