Courtesy of Gordon Vrdoljak, UC, Berkeley
 Pseudomonas syringae (left) and Pediococcus pentosaceus (right)

Over the past year, major English-language newspapers worldwide have printed six stories about microbial genomes, as compared with 485 stories on the Human Genome Project.1 Yet, scientists have sequenced and published nearly 100 complete microbial genomes. Dozens more have been draft-sequenced, providing unpublished data that have gaps but are still usable.

The public and press may be too enamored with the Human Genome Project (HGP) to pay much attention to the invisible world of microbes. But scientists, sequencing tools in hand, are finding microorganisms full of remarkable industrial potential. Microbial genomic data are paving the way for new and improved vaccines, better-tasting and safer fermented foods and beverages, stronger biodefense, and a cleaner environment.

Courtesy of the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute
 Lactobacillus gasseri

"Most people ... don't appreciate that, to put it...

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