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:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new ... make more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction ... timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies ... screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing ... lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016 ... ) ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange is ... users of its soon to be launched online site ... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyTLBzmZogV1y2D6bDkBX5g ) will also provide potential shareholders ... of DNA technology to an industry that is notorious ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... 22, 2016 According ... Market for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, Motion, ... (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, & ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market ... reach USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... PhD to its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Lamka will assist PathSensors in expanding ... detection. , PathSensors deploys the CANARY® test platform for the detection of ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group and the University ... other research and development initiatives for potential stem cell protocol management for 2016 – ... Group executives began meeting to establish a working agenda and foster initiatives to promote ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... Cameron Cushman ... an associate in the firm’s Intellectual Property practice group. , Clients turn to ... applications. He has an electrical engineering and computer engineering background, and experience in ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... ... April 26, 2016 , ... Heidelberg Instruments, ... latest technology innovation for its Volume Pattern Generator (VPG) line of lithography systems. ... advanced photomasks as well as a solution for mid volume direct write lithography ...
Breaking Biology Technology: