WALNUT CREEK, CA–Responding to the escalating demand for genome sequencing to unlock the potential of plants and microbes as fuel for the nation’s energy needs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) has announced the call for 2007 Community Sequencing Program (CSP) proposals.
The applications for the CSP capacity have been doubling since the program’s inception. In response, DOE JGI has committed 60 percent of its 33-billion-letter annual sequencing capacity to the next round of CSP projects, with a focus on proposals that will advance the nation’s energy security.
“The requests received in 2005 by DOE JGI to tap the CSP exceeds the world’s sequencing capacity, illustrating the enormous market need for such a powerful user resource,” said Dr. Aristides Patrinos, associate director of science for DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research.
The CSP enables researchers across a broad spectrum of disciplines to translate the information captured from the biosphere’s complex web of organisms into discoveries that have real utility for developing cleaner domestic energy options,” said DOE JGI Director Dr. Eddy Rubin. “Our collaborators have stepped up and validated DOE JGI as a user facility with a solid portfolio of prospects for yielding the gold nuggets from the planet’s biodiversity.”
A sequenced genome provides researchers a detailed parts catalog for characterizing an organism’s environmental niche and the starting material for exploring how it functions and what applications it may offer.
“Sequence generated by DOE JGI for our Center is helping us to understand the ecology, physiology and biochemistry of microbial processes important in nature and of value to industry,” said Dr. James Tiedje, a University Distinguished Professor of microbiology and Director of the National Science Foundation Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University.
An important genome sequenced by DOE JGI for Tiedje and his colleagues through one of the Institute’s peer-reviewed mechanisms, is the hardy Burkholderia xenovorans strain LB400, the best aerobic PCB degrader yet discovered. Besides degrading of one of the most recalcitrant and widespread pollutants, the Burkholderia group to which this strain belongs is also an important player in the carbon economy of soil where it is capable of fixing nitrogen gas–capturing atmospheric nitrogen and converting it to ammonia–and aids plant carbon dioxide fixation.
DOE JGI will be accepting letters of intent for new CSP projects until January 13, 2006 on line at http://www.jgi.doe.gov/CSP/index.html. Those applications that show promise and are best aligned with the nation’s needs in energy and environment are given the go-ahead to develop full proposals due March 3, 2006.
Among the dozens of CSP projects already completed or currently underway are the following:
- Prochlorococcus, a marine phytoplankton that plays a critical role in regulating the dynamics of the global carbon cycle, responsible for a significant fraction of photosynthesis in the world’s oceans.
- A community of microbes found in groundwater samples from contaminated sites within the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge. Sequences generated will complement biogeochemistry, hydrology, microbiology, and engineering studies to help evaluate the impacts of contaminants and remediation treatments on microbial community dynamics.
- The tropical grain Sorghum bicolor is expected to provide an improved blueprint for the study of other important grains such as maize, millet, and sugarcane.
- The fungal pathogen, Mycosphaerella fijiensis, cause of black Sigatoka–regarded as one of the most serious threats to world banana production;
- Petrolisthes cinctipes, the porcelain crab, whose heat and cold tolerance will help inform climate change research.
The DOE Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, unites the expertise of five national laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest, along with the Stanford Human Genome Center to advance genomics in support of the DOE mission related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and clean-up.