DOE Microbial Genome Program Report
Microbes and Climate Change
In the past 60 years, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted, mainly through expanding use of fossil fuels for energy, has risen dramatically and is thought to contribute to global climate change. Unless we make major alterations in the way we produce and use energy, predictions for the next century suggest a continued increase in emissions as well as rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition to controlling fossil fuel emissions, other methods must be explored for stabilizing or decreasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
One of the many poorly understood aspects of the global warming phenomenon is the role that specific microorganisms play in the natural carbon cycle on Earth. As part of its recently launched Carbon Management Science Program, DOE hopes to stabilize or decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by identifying ways to manage carbon levels in the terrestrial biosphere. One avenue of exploration is to sequence the genomes of microbes that use carbon dioxide as their sole carbon source. These organisms include Nitrosomonas europaea (pictured), Prochlorococcus marinus, Rhodopseudomonas palustris, Nostoc punctiforme, and a marine Synechococcus.
[Electron photomicrograph of Nitrosomonas, copyright
Stan Watson (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)]
|The online presentation of this 2000 publication is a special feature of the Human Genome Project Information Web site.|