Navigation Links
Living sensor can warn of arsenic pollution
Date:9/7/2008

Scientists studying arsenic pollution have discovered a living sensor that can spot contamination. They have also discovered new bacteria that can clean up arsenic spills even in previously untreatable cold areas, microbiologists heard today (Monday 8 September 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

The Giant Mine in Canada is in the sub-arctic. It contains over 230,000 tonnes of arsenic-containing dust, making it one of the most polluted places on Earth as well as one of the most inhospitable.

"Water seeps through the mine cracks carrying the arsenic with it as it drips down the walls," said Thomas Osborne from University College London, UK. "We discovered new types of bacteria living in biofilms on the walls of Giant Mine that consume arsenic compounds contained in the polluted water seeping through."

Arsenic is toxic to all living cells, and in people causes fatal cancers of the lung, liver, kidney and bladder. It also causes cirrhosis and gangrene, and on a wider scale seriously damages wildlife in fragile environments. Arsenic contamination is a global problem, with some countries including Vietnam, West Bengal, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Bangladesh and USA all severely affected.

"Until now, no bacteria have ever been isolated that can thrive in cold temperatures and deal with arsenic contamination. The new bacteria we discovered function at temperatures from 20oC down as low as 4oC," said Thomas Osborne. "These bacteria also live in a community called a biofilm, which means that we can build them into a new system to clean up contaminated areas by removing the arsenic from soil or drinking water, even in the cold far north and south, or in winter".

"The other exciting possibility that this opens up is that we can isolate the enzyme from these new strains of bacteria and develop an arsenic biosensor to use in cold environments. This will warn when traces of arsenic are escaping from areas like mine workings, industrial chemical facilities, or even laboratories, alerting us before pollution manages to get into watercourses or drinking water supplies. We could also use it to test newly drilled wells in countries like Bangladesh where water supplies are known to be contaminated," said Thomas Osborne.

Many organisms, including all plants and animals, ultimately get their energy from the sun via photosynthesis. But over the last few decades scientists have discovered more and more microbes that can get their energy directly from breaking down chemical bonds. This enables them to survive in extraordinary and dark environments such as deep inside the Earth or at the bottom of the coldest, deepest oceans, where previously no life was expected to exist at all.


'/>"/>

Contact: Lucy Goodchild
l.goodchild@sgm.ac.uk
44-078-248-83010
Society for General Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. MIT creates 3-D images of living cell
2. Clemson scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
3. Living fossils have hot sex
4. Studying component parts of living cells with carbon nanotube cellular probes
5. Living with lions
6. Burrowing mammals dig for a living, but how do they do that?
7. Researchers examine closest living relative to primates
8. New technology illuminates protein interactions in living cells
9. New technique captures chemical reactions in a single living cell at unprecedented resolution
10. Captive carnivores not up to wild living
11. Stanford researchers say living corals thousands of years old hold clues to past climate changes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... and BADEN-BADEN, Germany , December 15, ... global financial services provider, today announced an agreement with NuData ... biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will enable clients to ... in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In order to provide ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... ... has announced the addition of the "Global Military Biometrics Market 2016-2020" ... global military biometrics market to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% during ... on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report ... The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... HILLS, Mich. , Dec. 15, 2016  There ... unlocking car doors or starting the engine. Continental will ... in Las Vegas . Through the ... (Passive Start and Entry) and biometric elements, the international ... field of vehicle personalization and authentication. "The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... 2017   Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) , ... Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Duchenne) , today announced a $600,000 ... of Technology (NJIT) and Talem Technologies (Talem) as part ... to assist people living with Duchenne. PPMD is ... an embedded computer, software, a force sensor and a ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine ... Solofuse-P™. The operation took place on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at Long Island ... anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on a 42 year old female who was ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... January 18, 2017 , ... Announced in December ... Institutes (MII). U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has announced the award of ... of Defense has announced the award of a new Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... Researchers from a new study are stating that if levels ... prostate cancer treatment, this indicates there is still remaining prostate cancer cells that are more ... PSA test has always been an indicator of whether a man’s prostate cancer is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: