Two major microbiology projects funded by the US Department of Energy — Genomes to Life and the Microbial Cell Project — may result in the development of virtual cells that enable researchers from a number of different fields to explore cellular behaviour under different conditions.

Microbes, more than any other organism, have the potential to facilitate the development of novel applied biotechnology and advances in basic science, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has long been interested in microbes. In 1994 it established the microbial genome project to sequence microbes.

Now the DoE is funding two research projects aimed at exploring what the wealth of microbe sequence data that exists (the complete sequence of upwards of 50 microbes is known) can offer biologists looking to understand basic cellular processes as well as those specifically interested in understanding microbial cellular structures and functions.

The purpose of the work is to meet...

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