Pictured above are pigmented bacterial colonies of Deinococcus radiodurans, the most radiation-resistant organism currently known.

DEINO-MITE CLEANUP In 1956, investigators discovered a potentially invaluable cleanup tool in an unlikely place. A hardy bacterium called Deinococcus radiodurans unexpectedly thrived in samples of canned meat thought to be sterilized by gamma radiation. The bacterium soon earned the distinction of being the most radiation-resistant organism known on the planet. Hoping that the D. radiodurans' genome might reveal the secrets to this rare attribute, the U.S. Department of Energy chose the bacterium to be among a group of organisms that they'd pay The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Md., to sequence--research TIGR recently had published (O. White et al., "Genome sequence of the radioresistant bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans R1," Science, 286:1571-7, Nov. 19, 1999)....

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