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A Selection of Recently Sequenced Genomes


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Genes and Genomes

So far this year scientists around the world have sequenced the genomes of at least thirty species, including the honeybee and the rat. The others are mainly little known microbes with names no one can pronounce. Yet each of these creatures has a fascinating existence thanks to the genes it carries, and here are a few of our favorites.


Petroleum Pest (Desulfovibrio vulgaris)

Commonly found in oil fields, this bacterium is an expensive pest to the petroleum industry. It breaks down metals and can corrode the machinery used to drill, pump, and store oil. But the microbe also breaks down pollutants and could potentially clean up environmental toxins.


Honeybee (Apis mellifera)

Endowed with a small brain but ample social skills, the honeybee is used to study genes involved in behavior and communication. The European honeybee, Apis mellifera, makes an abundance of honey, and the insect is prized by farmers around the world for pollinating crops.


Nestlé Microbe (Lactobacillus johnsonii)

This bacterium lives in our intestines and may protect against harmful microbes. The food company Nestlé, which sequenced the organism, uses it in a yogurt-like dairy product called LC1. According to the company, LC1 strengthens the body's natural defenses and keeps the bowel healthy.


Hospital Bug (Staphylococcus aureus)

This bacterium is the leading cause of infection among hospital patients, and many strains do not respond to commonly used antibiotics. It can cause a range of conditions, from food poisoning to fatal cases of pneumonia. The pathogen has acquired genes for virulence and resistance to drugs through contact with other bacteria. Two new strains were sequenced in 2004.


Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Rats have versions of nearly every gene known to cause disease in humans, and they have been used for decades to develop and test new drugs. The sequenced strain was the Brown Norway rat, a popular lab rat and also a pest and a pet worldwide.


Microbial Thug (Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus)

This bacterium is found almost everywhere, including the human intestines. Unable to reproduce on its own, the bacterium burrows into another microbe, killing it and using the remains to make offspring. Human pathogens and plant pathogens are among its victims.


Cattle Killer (Mycoplasma mycoides)

This bacterium causes a highly contagious respiratory disease that is a leading killer of cattle in Africa. The disease, known as BCPP, is also a problem in Asia and has occurred in Southern Europe, making it a global threat to cattle. The pathogen also infects buffalo.


Chicken (Gallus gallus)

The chicken has long been used by biologists to study how embryos develop, and chicken researchers have contributed knowledge about viruses and cancer. The sequenced DNA came from the Red Jungle Fowl, a wild ancestor of the domestic chicken. This is the first bird to have its genome sequenced.


Forest Fungus (Phanerochaete chrysosporium)

This fungus, also known as white rot, lives in fallen trees and on the forest floor. It plays a role in the global carbon cycle by degrading a substance in plants called lignin. It also degrades toxic chemicals, and could be used to clean up hazardous waste.


Environmental Chlamydia (Protochlamydia amoebophila)

Known as environmental chlamydiae, this bacterium lives inside amoebae that are found throughout the soil, water, dust, and air. Until the nineties, no one knew this type of bacterium existed. It is related to chlamydiae that cause venereal disease and pneumonia, and it may itself be an overlooked human pathogen.


Yeast for Biotech (Yarrowia lipolytica)

A “non-conventional” species of yeast, this organism is often used in genetics research because it differs from other well-studied species. It could potentially be used to produce molecules that have applications in biotechnology. The organism was sequenced as part of a study that compared five species of yeast.


Yeast for Drugs (Kluyveromyces lactis)

This yeast is commonly used in genetics research and could potentially be used to produce pharmaceuticals or other compounds. The organism was sequenced as part of a study that compared five species of yeast.


For more about these and other genomes, visit A Quick Guide to Sequenced Genomes.

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