Bacteriophilic bacteria as a plastic supplier

Research network wants to decode genome

Bacteriostatic bacteria Ralstonia eutropha USDA
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True miracles await science and industry from the bang-gas bacterium "Ralstonia eutropha". The bacterium is already being used for the biotechnological production of polyesters, from which tailor-made, biodegradable packaging, so-called "natural plastics", can be produced. The genome of the promising bacterium is now exploring a research network.

Among other things, the findings will be used to produce biotechnologically interesting substances with "Ralstonia eutropha". The bacterium is already used by the chemical industry for the biotechnological production of polyesters, from which biodegradable packaging and resorbable materials as well as nanoparticles for medical and pharmaceutical applications can be produced.

Biotechnological potential

The bacterium's ability to grow with hydrogen and oxygen as sources of energy, as well as being able to fix carbon dioxide like plants, makes it very interesting for biotechnological production processes. This has also prompted the company Prokarya from Iceland to participate in the project. In Iceland, with its hot springs, geothermal energy, which can be converted into cheap electricity, is widely available. From this, the energy sources hydrogen and oxygen required for the growth of the bacterium can be obtained by electrolysis.

The knowledge of the genome sequence will make it possible to selectively alter the metabolism of "Ralstonia eutropha" so that the bacterium can produce polyester more efficiently and with defined chemical compositions. In addition, the cells of the bacterium are intended as a source of protein for the nutrition of animals, such as salmon.

Larger genome than E.coli

Together with research groups at the Humboldt University Berlin, the University of Göttingen, the "Göttingen Genomics Laboratory" (G2L) and the company Prokarya from Iceland, the working group of Prof. Steinbüchel in Münster wants the sequencing of the genome and the annotation started in the first funding phase complete the genes of the bacterium "Ralstonia eutropha". It is already clear that the genome, at around 7.5 million base pairs, is about 50 percent larger than that of "Escherichia coli, " which many consider the best-studied bacterium. display

The research initiative "GenoMik - Genome Research on Microorganisms", approved by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in October 2001 and funded for three years since June 2001, is entering another two-year funding phase. Within the framework of "GenoMik", a total of three competence networks based in Bielefeld, Göttingen and Würzburg are funded. Nationwide, around 70 research groups from universities, research institutions and industrial companies are involved in the networks.

(Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universit t M nster, 06.08.2004 - NPO)