Bacteria are an important source of biocatalysts for industrial processes, bioremediation agents, and bioactive compounds for pharmaceutical and other applications. This project established a centre of expertise in environmental microbial genomics at UBC, a first in Canada. It investigated the biology and physiology of environmentally important bacteria, particularly Rhodococcus jostii RHA1, through genomic approaches. RHA1 is a potent polychlorinated biphenyl-degrading soil bacterium with unique and diverse capabilities that make it an ideal candidate for the bioremediation of contaminated soils. In 2005, when the research team completed sequencing the genome of RHA1, it was larger than any other sequenced bacterial genome. Comparative analyses with other bacteria uncovered a cholesterol metabolic pathway in Mycobacterium tuberculosis that provides potential targets for novel therapeutics. This work furthers the understanding of RHA1 and related organisms and greatly facilitates engineering of RHA1 for the development of various environmentally sustainable and efficient industrial applications.