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New environments, versatile genomes


In this month's column we discuss three genome projects that reveal different aspects of microbial diversity and adaptability to different environmental niches; an impressively large community metagenomic sequencing project that has provided an enormous amount of data from a nutrient-poor aquatic environment; the sequence of an oral spirochete, Treponema denticola, which illustrates how readily related microorganisms adapt to different niches in the human body; and the first genome of a Wolbachia species, which sheds light on these fascinating bacterial manipulators of invertebrate biology.

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Figure 1: Prochlorococcus, the smallest of the marine phytoplankton, and the genus with the smallest known genomes of any oxygen-generating photosynthetic organism.
Figure 2: Transmission electron micrograph of Wolbachia inside an insect spermatid cell.


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Bacteroides fragilis

Borrelia burgdorferi

Drosophila melanogaster

Treponema denticola

Treponema pallidum

Wolbachia pipientis wMel


The Pathogen Sequencing Unit

Ocean Genomics Web Focus

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Cerdeño-Tárraga, A., Crossman, L. & Parkhill, J. New environments, versatile genomes. Nat Rev Microbiol 2, 446–447 (2004).

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