The metabolic capabilities of the species of Brucella were originally of interest as a means of distinguishing them from each other and from other genera. Certain unusual characteristics, especially erythritol utilization, were studied in the hopes they would shed light on the pathogenicity. With the advent of modern genetic methods and genomic sequencing, it is now possible to get a good idea of the total capabilities of the organism and to do tests to confirm these deductions. Brucella appears to be a fairly normal member of the α-proteobacteria, but with some differences. A few questions remain, such as whether Brucella uses the Entner-Doudoroff pathway. Some of the genes in carbohydrate utilization have been shown to be important in virulence.