Researchers have successfully sequence the genome of Azotobacter vinelandii, a nitrogen fixing bacterium found in soil. The data gathered will help advance research on nitrogen fixation and other biochemical processes, using A. vinelandii as model organism.
A. vinelandii has one of the highest respiratory rates of any known bacterium and has the capacity to maintain low levels of cytoplasmic oxygen through a process called respiratory protection. The sequence of the bacteria’s genome allowed the team of researchers to identify the genes involved in respiration, including those responsible for respiratory protection. Genome analysis helped pinpoint the chromosomal location of the three known oxygen-sensitive nitrogenases, as well as the genes that code for other oxygen-sensitive enzymes such as carbon-monoxide dehydrogenase and a formate dehydrogenase. The sequence also provided important information on the genes that code for alginate, a polymer that further protects the organism from excess oxygen by forming a physical barrier around the bacterium.