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Researchers Sequence A. phosphatis as Part of Metagenomic Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers published this week in Nature Biotechnology the first metagenomic study of an activated sludge wastewater-treatment process, which yielded a near-complete genetic map for the bacterial species Accumulibacter phosphatis.

A. phosphatis plays a key role in a process used to remove excess phosphorus from wastewater known as enhanced biological phosphorus removal.

The work was conducted by investigators from the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Advanced Wastewater Management Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia.

"This is a first step in a much broader strategy employing a systems biology approach to the study of microbial communities with the goal of designing predictive models to understand how these communities function," said Hector Garcia Martin, study co-author and post-doctoral fellow in the DOE JGI's Microbial Ecology Program. "With this information now available, there are opportunities to bioengineer the process to make it more reliable."

"Engineers and microbiologists have been trying for 35 years to grow this microbe, with no success," Trina McMahon, study co-author and assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. "We were able to isolate and acquire the genome sequence of Accumulibacter phosphatis without a pure culture of the organism, which, like most microbes, eludes laboratory culture. We expect that clues hidden in the genome will lead to domestication of this mysterious organism, enabling further studies of its habits and lifestyle.”

 

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