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Cytophaga hutchinsonii ATCC 33406
   
   
 
Cellulose is one of the most abundant biopolymers on earth. This common component of plant cell walls is insoluble and relatively resistant to degradation. Cytophaga hutchinsonii, an aerobic Gram-negative bacterium that is commonly found in soil, rapidly digests crystalline cellulose (3). Molecular analysis of cellulose degradation by C. hutchinsonii is now feasible, since techniques for the genetic manipulation of this organism have recently been developed (2). C. hutchinsonii belongs to the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium branch of the eubacterial phylogenetic tree. Like many of the bacteria in this group, C. hutchinsonii exhibits the ability to move rapidly over surfaces by a process known as gliding motility. The mechanism of gliding motility is not known, but flagella are not involved (1, 4). Gliding motility is thought to be important in allowing C. hutchinsonii to colonize its insoluble growth substrate. Analysis of the C. hutchinsonii genome sequence will facilitate studies of cellulose degradation, which will be important in developing new strategies to utilize this renewable resource. It will also help to determine the mechanism of bacterial gliding motility, which has remained an unsolved biological mystery for over 100 years.