Many microbes that use carbon monoxide as an energy source are found in high temperature environments such as geothermal areas. Researchers think that these carboxydotrophs may be involved in reducing potentially toxic carbon monoxide hotspots by combine with water to form hydrogen, carbon dioxide and acetate, which are in turn used for thermophilic energy conservation and carbon sequestration mechanisms.
The project focuses on sequencing two closely related microbes, one of which is Carboxydothermus hydrogenformans. A strain of C. hydrogenformans has been grown in hydrogen-enriched synthesis gas (syngas), which contains a mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Researchers are interested in sequencing both microbial strains to track the genome’s evolution and identify genes that might be of use in adapting the microbe for industrial applications where it could be used to boost hydrogen-enriched syngas production. Syngas by itself doesn’t have the energy density to be used as a transporation fuel, but it can be used to help produce other fuels such as synthetic natural gas. Additionally, the hydrogen component of syngas can be used in fuel cells. The second microbe being sequenced is C. ferrireducens, which has been shown to have potential applications in toxic metal bioremediation.
Principal Investigators: Frank Robb, Center of Marine Biotechnology
Program: CSP 2010