A group of microbiologists led by Dr. K. K. Pal and Dr. R. Dey working at the Directorate of Groundnut Research, have successfully sequenced and annotated the first complete genome of the genusVirgibacillus: Virgibacillus sp. MSP4-1, an obligate halophile. This organism can tolerate upto 23.5% (minimum and optimum being 8% and 10%, respectively) NaCl in the growth medium. The bacterium was isolated from a salt pan of the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat under NAIP funded projects on diversity of extreme organisms and isolation of relevant genes and alleles. The annotation of the complete genome of 3,332,438 bp of Virgibacillus sp. MSP4-1 (Figure 1) revealed the presence of 420 subsystems and genes for 3,459 coding sequences (CDSs), 90 RNA and 910 hypothetical proteins. Besides, there are 26 genes related to osmotic stress (osmoregulation, ecotine biosysnthesis and choline and betaine uptake) and 37 genes for oxidative stress tolerance (protection from ROS, oxidative stress and glutathione).
The obligate halophilism of this organism is being studied from evolutionary, comparative and functional genomics point of view at ICAR-DGR. Exploring the genome of this obligate halophile will pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of halophilism i.e. the genes, the biochemical pathways, and the metabolites involved in imparting osmotolerance. Further studies on identification of genes and alleles for enzymes, which remain biologically active in this organism is in progress.