Ann M. Hirsch and María Valdés Ramírez
Micromonospora strain L5
Micromonospora strain L5.Photo by Ann M. Hirsch.

Ann M. Hirsch, from the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UC Los Angeles, and María Valdés Ramírez, from the Department of Microbiology at the Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biólogicas-IPN, were awarded a 2007 UC MEXUS-CONACYT collaborative research grant to undertake research on Micromonospora L5, a novel bacterial strain that acquired nifH, a nitrogenase structural gene, most likely by horizontal gene transfer. This is the first example of a Gram-positive actinomycete other than Frankia that fixes nitrogen. Both researchers recently received national recognition in Mexico for their work: Valdés received the National Prize for Sciences and Art in 2008, and Hirsch was inducted as an Elected Corresponding Member in Mexico's National Academy of Sciences on January 20, 2009. Hirsch and Valdés will next annotate the genomes of two Micromonospora species, which have been sequenced by the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Additional information about their research can be found on the JGI website.

Rivera, Hirsch and Ramirez at induction ceremony
José Enrique Villa Rivera, Director General of the Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Ann M. Hirsch, and María Valdés Ramírez at the Mexican Academy of Sciences induction ceremony.Photo by Stefan J. Kirchanski.