Studies done at the DOE Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Center (ORFRC) have shown that some microbes have the ability to effectively pull out heavy metals and other hazardous material from contaminated soils and groundwater. One of these microbes is Rahnella sp. Y9602, which has been shown to contain an enzyme that can effectively pull out uranium in contaminated groundwater.
One benefit of sequencing the Rahnella genome and of other microbes with similar bioremediation applications is that the genomic information could help researchers who are in charge of waste sites resulting from the Cold War. Between 1942 and 1992, the U.S. nuclear weapons research program was operated at 120 sites in 36 states. The contaminants that have seeped in to the subsurface water and soil systems at these sites are still being remediated to reduce the environmental threats. In addition, the microbial genome sequence would also give researchers a reference sequence for the first subsurface proteogenomic study in ORFRC contaminated soils, allowing them to conduct comparative genomics and horizontal gene transfer analyses.
Principal Investigators: Robert Martinez, University of Alabama
Program: CSP 2010