NEW YORK, May 8-A group of researchers led by Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has sequenced the genome of Streptomyces coelicolor, a soil bacterium from the genus responsible for two-thirds of all naturally derived antibiotics.
At 8.6 million base pairs, the S. coelicolor genome is the largest bacterium to be completely sequenced. The genome is predicted to include roughly 7,825 genes, nearly twice as many as are found in E. coli.
Understanding the bacterium's enzymes and pathways may point the way toward new antimicrobial compounds, the authors write. "The abundance of previously uncharacterized metabolic enzymes, particularly those likely to be involved in the production of natural products, is a resource of enormous potential value.".
Streptomyces bacteria are also the source of many anti-tumor compounds and immunosuppressive agents.
The bacterium is also part of the same order as the pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. leprae.
Sequencing was done at the Sanger Institute, in collaboration with David Hopwood of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.
An article based on the sequence data appears in today's issue of the journal Nature.