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Microbial Genomics

“Antisense” Gene Discovery is Important for Several
Research Applications

Pseudomonas fluorescens are rod-shaped bacteria that live in diverse environments such as on plants or in soil and water. Secondary metabolites from P. fluorescens have an antimicrobial effect on several soil borne plant pathogens. These attributes make the species an important model for investigating the environmental survival and potential biocontrol applications.  Tufts University researchers Mark Silby and Stuart Levy applied an in vivo expression technology to identify “antisense” genes in the soil bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf0-1 that had not been identified by traditional sequencing and computational annotation techniques. The discovery is reported in the June 2008 PLoS Genetics Journal, published by the Public Library of Science.  Antisense genes play a key role in biological processes, including bacterial growth, development, and successful colonization in a particular environment. In addition to uncovering the gene required for efficient colonization in soil, this research may help to develop the bacteria as a potential biocontrol agent. The National Research Initiative’s Functional Genomics of Microorganisms Program funds this research.


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