Gold mine

US researchers identify 1.2 million bacterial genes

Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

Craig Venter, the human genome wizard, has ambitious plans. During a study conducted along with researchers from his US-based Institute for Biological and Energy Alternatives, Venter has identified 1,800 new species of microbes, and over 1.2 million microbial genes. The microbes were filtered from the seawater of the Sargasso sea, off the coast of Bermuda.

Raymond Orbach of the US department of energy, which partially funded the study, says the development could lead to new energy sources. "Our study may help provide bacterial photoreceptors, which can harvest light to make hydrogen," the researchers claim in their paper published in the journal Science. According to Orbach, the new bacteria can also be used for bioremediation -- use of microbes to clean-up sites contaminated by hazardous chemicals or radiation.

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