Survival in nuclear waste, extreme resistance, and potential applications gleaned from the genome sequence of Kineococcus radiotolerans SRS30216

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Abstract

Kineococcus radiotolerans SRS30216 was isolated from a high-level radioactive environment at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and exhibits γ-radiation resistance approaching that of Deinococcus radiodurans. The genome was sequenced by the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute which suggested the existence of three replicons, a 4.76 Mb linear chromosome, a 0.18 Mb linear plasmid, and a 12.92 Kb circular plasmid. Southern hybridization confirmed that the chromosome is linear. The K. radiotolerans genome sequence was examined to learn about the physiology of the organism with regard to ionizing radiation resistance, the potential for bioremediation of nuclear waste, and the dimorphic life cycle. K. radiotolerans may have a unique genetic toolbox for radiation protection as it lacks many of the genes known to confer radiation resistance in D. radiodurans. Additionally, genes involved in the detoxification of reactive oxygen species and the excision repair pathway are overrepresented. K. radiotolerans appears to lack degradation pathways for pervasive soil and groundwater pollutants. However, it can respire on two organic acids found in SRS high-level nuclear waste, formate and oxalate, which promote the survival of cells during prolonged periods of starvation. The dimorphic life cycle involves the production of motile zoospores. The flagellar biosynthesis genes are located on a motility island, though its regulation could not be fully discerned. These results highlight the remarkable ability of K radiotolerans to withstand environmental extremes and suggest that in situ bioremediation of organic complexants from high level radioactive waste may be feasible.

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Bagwell, C. E., Bhat, S., Hawkins, G. M., Smith, B. W., Biswas, T., Hoover, T. R., … Shimkets, L. J. (2008). Survival in nuclear waste, extreme resistance, and potential applications gleaned from the genome sequence of Kineococcus radiotolerans SRS30216. PLoS ONE, 3(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003878

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