The genus Thauera has been described only relatively recently. Thauera is characterized by its ability to use aromatic hydrocarbons under anoxic conditions and contains unique pathways for the degradation of these aromatic compounds. It can use selenate as an electron acceptor without interference by nitrate. Also, Thauera can grow chemolithoautotrophically, using hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen, or using simple organic compounds for growth. The sequencing of Thauera sp. MZ1T will be an important contribution to the DOE systems biology effort in the Genomics: GTL program. MZ1T has unique properties that, if fully understood at the genome-sequence level, can aid in environmental processing of organic matter in anaerobic cycles by short-circuiting a central anaerobic metabolite–acetate–from microbiological conversion to methane, a critical greenhouse gas. Furthermore, the control of acetate flux via the approach used by MZ1T would be a novel carbon sequestration mechanism: complex stable biopolymer production.
It can also be foreseen that knowledge of nucleic acid sequences (both structural and regulatory) will further contribute to the systems biology of biopolymers as both value-added products and remedial control substances for mobile metal and radionuclide contaminants. Thauera has emerged internationally as an important genus in anaerobic and facultative microbial metabolism in environmental systems. It represents an excellent potential systems biology model with value for DOE missions in site remediation, greenhouse gas emission control, and carbon sequestration.
Principal Investigators: Gary S. Sayler, Michael S. Allen, and John Sanseverino (Univ. of Tennessee)