NEW YORK, Aug. 22 – Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine earlier this week announced that they have finished sequencing and annotating Agrobacterium tumefaciens , a bacterium with a unique ability to insert genetic material into other organisms.
The project, partially funded by a National Science Foundation grant, also includes investigators from DuPont and the University of Campinas in Brazil.
While much is already understood about the DNA-transfer mechanism of the C58 strain sequenced, relatively little is known about the role of non-plasmid genes scattered throughout the bacterium’s approximately 5.67 million base pairs, according to University of Washington investigators. The sequencing project strives to identify the genes and uncover their function by comparing it to other bacterial genes whose function is already known.
Project investigators plan to use the information to better understand interactions between bacteria and plant and animal host cells. Predicted applications of that knowledge include genetic engineering of foodstuffs to produce crops with increased resistance to temperature extremes, high salt concentration, and attack by disease and insects, according to University of Washington researchers.
The investigators note that analysis of the A. tumefaciens genome is particularly significant as it is an extremely large genome compared with other sequenced bacteria, and that it lives in many different environments whereby many earlier sequenced bacteria live only in highly specialized biomes.
Investigators have said that the sequence and annotation information will be freely available on the Internet.