First isolated in 1931, Shewanella bacteria are rock-dwelling and grow naturally almost everywhere. They can be found in freshwater lakes, marine sediments and play key roles in global carbon and nitrogen cycles. They are major microbial players in cleaning up environments contaminated with toxic metals and radioactive waste, and are capable of using contaminants such as uranium, chromium and technetium as energy sources and then expelling them in a less toxic form.
Nearly two dozen Shewanella strains – including four S. baltica strains – have been sequenced by DOE JGI. Researchers now propose sequencing an additional five S. baltica strains. The previously sequenced S. baltica strains are being studied in part for their evolutionary relationships as well as information genome exchange and adaptation. By studying multiple members of the same natural population of a species, researchers could better understand complex microbial communities. Additionally, they gain insight into how genome content, especially from strains in similar environments commonly found in contaminated areas of interest, has been affected over time. Finally, the genetic information allows researchers to better map genes and alleles to specific geochemical conditions and environmental stimuli.
Principal Investigators: Jennifer Achtung, Michigan State University
Program: CSP 2010