Navigation Links
Outsmarting algae -- RIT scientist finds the turn-off switch

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
Rochester Institute of Technology

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:
(Date:4/19/2016)... 2016 The new GEZE SecuLogic ... web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. It ... the door interface with integration authorization management system, and ... The minimal dimensions of the access control and the ... installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard to ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... and Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of ... the new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes ... the heels of the deployment of its platform at ... behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention ... recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Md. , June 23, 2016 A person ... from the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA ... sequencing to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that asks ... systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at the ... York City . The teams, chosen ... MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. Keynote ... of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... In ... University Hospital in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated ... tissue. The results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side ...
Breaking Biology Technology: