DOE Microbial Genome Program Report
the possibilities for new applications, in 1994 the U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE) established the Microbial Genome Program (MGP) as a companion
to its Human Genome Program (HGP). From the start, the MGP experienced
remarkable success, and microbial genomics has become one of the most
exciting and high-profile fields in biology today.
A principal goal of this spin-off project is to determine the complete DNA sequence—the genome—of a number of nonpathogenic microbes that may be useful to DOE in carrying out its missions (nonpathogenic microbes do not cause disease). The microbes chosen for genomic sequencing were selected with broad input from the scientific community. "The microbial diversity of the program is an absolute treasure trove for [research in] biotechnology, ecology, evolution, and bioremediation," notes David Schlessinger (National Institute on Aging).
Only a few years ago, scientists could not have imagined having full access to the genetic structure of more than a few such organisms. Today, nearly three dozen complete microbial genomes, eleven supported by DOE's MGP, have been sequenced, and the rate of reported new genome sequences is increasing rapidly. (For a current listing, see Web site.) These DNA sequences, along with those from many viruses and more complex organisms such as fruitfly, roundworm, and yeast, are freely available in public databases. This information is being used by governmental, academic, medical, and industrial scientists. The number of possible applications of this information is staggering. Sequenced genomes provide us with a genetic "parts" list; the next challenge is to explore how these parts come together to form a functioning organism.
This booklet describes projects, accomplishments, and potential benefits
of the innovative work supported by DOE in its MGP. Although much
more remains to be studied, this program represents a first but vital step
toward a greater understanding of the bountiful microbial resources surrounding
us, as well as safe ways to exploit their unique beneficial qualities.
|The online presentation of this 2000 publication is a special feature of the Human Genome Project Information Web site.|