Navigation Links
Outsmarting algae -- RIT scientist finds the turn-off switch
Date:9/13/2011

Algaecide is no crime.

Consider that some strains of algae produce toxins lethal to wildlife, fish and plants. Even the less harmful varieties suck oxygen out of water, suffocating living creatures in lakes, ponds, pools and aquariums. Recent algal blooms in the Great Lakes, for instance, threaten critical ecosystems.

Rochester Institute of Technology scientist Andr Hudson and colleagues have figured out how to outsmart the organism.

"We have recently deciphered the structure of an essential enzyme in the photosynthetic organism that is a target for algaecide development," says Hudson, assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences in RIT's College of Science.

All organisms that undergo photosynthesisplants (multi-cellular), algae (single-cellular) and certain kinds of bacteriaproduce lysine, an amino acid, or a building block of protein for growth and development. Humans and animals cannot make lysine and must acquire the essential amino acid directly or indirectly from fruits and vegetables.

Hudson discovered a new pathway for lysine synthesis in plants and certain pathogenic bacteria in 2006 while working as a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University. His current research is aimed at finding targets for the enzymes associated with the lysine biosynthesis pathways.

"Since humans do not possess any of the enzymatic machinery to make lysineand now that we know that is it an essential enzyme in all photosynthetic organismswe can develop a compound that would block the enzyme from functioning in algae. It won't affect humans because we don't have the pathway(s) to begin with," Hudson says.

An important first step for algaecide development was the crystallization of the enzyme conducted by Hudson's colleague Renwick Dobson, professor at the University of Melbourne and University of Canterbury.

The process of protein crystallography separates proteins from the solution in which they are suspended. The next step shoots an X-ray beam through the freed crystals to reveal, with the help of computer algorithms, how the protein is folded in its three-dimensional configuration.

"This is important because once you know where the substratethe keyfits into the enzymethe lockone can design a pseudo substrate compound that looks like the natural substrate but it's a better 'key for the lock.' It will prevent the natural key from opening the door, inhibiting or blocking the enzyme from functioning."

Solving the three-dimensional structure for the algae enzyme gives scientists a map for developing an algaecide that will target the organism without harming other plant life growing in the same environment.

Undergraduate student Irma Girn co-authored both papers with Hudson and Dobson. The biotechnology major presented a poster at the American Society for Plant Biologists meeting, in August in Minnesota, describing how the algae enzyme can be used as an algaecide target.

"It's not typical for an undergraduate students to have two published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals before they graduate," Hudson says. "Irma was very instrumental in getting both publications."

The research team submitted their information revealing the structure of the algae enzyme to the Protein Data Bank, a public database available to scientists around the world.

"The database is a source for scientists who can take this information to the next step to find the right inhibitors for the enzyme and produce an actual algaecide, if they are willing and able," Hudson says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Susan Gawlowicz
smguns@rit.edu
585-475-5061
Rochester Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Outsmarting cancer cells: SLU scientists learn how they spread
2. Montana State researchers receive grant to study algae as a source of biofuel
3. Engineering algae to make fuel instead of sugar
4. Success for first outdoor, large-scale algae-to-biofuel research project in Nevada
5. Study links seabird deaths to soap-like foam produced by red-tide algae
6. Dust deposited in oceans may carry elements toxic to marine algae
7. Mighty diatoms: Global climate feedback from microscopic algae
8. Nanofarming technology harvest biofuel oils without harming algae
9. ISU researcher identifies protein that concentrates carbon dioxide in algae
10. Genes from tiny algae shed light on big role managing carbon in worlds oceans
11. Genes from tiny marine algae suggest unsuspected avenues for new research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... CHICAGO , March 29, 2017  higi, the ... ecosystem in North America , today ... Partners and the acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment ... extensive set of tools to transform population health activities ... and lifestyle data. higi collects and secures ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... 27, 2017  Catholic Health Services (CHS) has ... Society (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving Stage 6 on ... . In addition, CHS previously earned a place ... an electronic medical record (EMR). "HIMSS ... of EMR usage in an outpatient setting.  This ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 24, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to ... The ... a CAGR of around 15.1% over the next decade to reach ... analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes of the evolving air ... living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related diseases. , That is ... globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I had to take action ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... program has won a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program ... in Volunteer Experience from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased to ... who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each award ... conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March 1, ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System which uses ... EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography (sEMG). The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: