Navigation Links
A radical solution for environmental pollution

Nature abounds with examples of bacteria that can thrive in extreme situations---surviving on toxic chemicals, for instance. In a paper published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) May 25, University of Michigan researchers show how some bugs manage to do that: by harnessing other potentially harmful chemicals known as free radicals to degrade the toxins they live on.

Such insights could lead to new ways of engineering bacteria to clean up environmental messes, said associate professor of chemistry E. Neil Marsh, who did the work with postdoctoral fellow Chunhua Qiao.

Free radicals---highly reactive chemical species that have been implicated in aging, diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer, and even destruction of the ozone layer---aren't all bad, Marsh said. Many essential chemical reactions occurring in living organisms involve enzymes that use radicals. In the work described in the JACS paper, Marsh and Qiao investigated the chemical reactions that allow the bacterium Thauera aromatica to live on toluene as its sole source of carbon and energy.

"Toluene is a by-product of oil refining, so there's quite a lot of environmental contamination with this and related hydrocarbons, from refineries or chemical plants," Marsh said. "Because of their molecular structure, these compounds are very difficult to degrade, which is why they're pollution hazards." Toluene is especially worrisome because it's more soluble in water than most organic compounds are, which means that it can contaminate groundwater.

Bacteria such as T. aromatica hold promise for use in cleaning up environmental pollutants because they not only can break down hazardous chemicals, but they can also do it underground, in oxygen-scarce environments---just the sort of places where toluene could be causing problems.

Marsh would like to transfer T. aromatica's toluene-degrading abilities to other bacteria that are more easily cultured and more tolerant of various environmental conditions. He'd also like to coax T. aromatica into neutralizing other kinds of pollutants, but the first step is understanding exactly how the bug breaks down toluene.

"The challenge is that the chemical reactions these bacteria use are very unusual---not the standard chemical reactions that chemists usually think about," said Marsh. "It turns out that the solution to metabolizing these very inert compounds is to harness the reactive chemistry of free radicals. To a chemist it's an elegant solution to a difficult problem---even if we still don't really understand how the enzymes that catalyze these reactions work, for everyone else it could mean less pollution."


'"/>

Source:University of Michigan


Related biology news :

1. Researchers extend mouse lifespan by protecting against free radicals
2. Free-radical busting antioxidants might not promote healthy hearts
3. Delft water-purification method promises radical improvement
4. Free radical cell death switch identified
5. New law for resolution allows unprecedented sharpness in fluorescence microscopy
6. Scientists must offer solutions for conserving tropical forests in a rapidly changing world
7. UCR environmental scientists propose chemical solution to cleaning Californias Salton Sea
8. High resolution snapshots detail dynamics of a cocaine antibody
9. High-resolution light microscope reveals the fundamental mechanisms of nerve communication
10. Microscopic scaffolding offers a simple solution to treating skin injuries
11. Recombination protein dynamics observed with single monomer resolution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/2/2017)... JACKSONVILLE, Fla. , Feb. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... ), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company specializing in the ... vaccines for the treatment of cancer and metastatic ... multi-gram scale-up and GMP manufacturing of a second ... T-cell vaccine targeting folate receptor alpha. The manufactured ...
(Date:2/2/2017)... , Feb. 1, 2017  Central to its ... meaningful advances worldwide, The Japan Prize Foundation today ... who have pushed the envelope in their respective ... Communication. Three scientists are being recognized with the ... that not only contribute to the advancement of ...
(Date:1/31/2017)... Jan. 31, 2017  Spero Therapeutics, LLC, a ... the treatment of bacterial infections, today announced it ... candidates from Pro Bono Bio Ltd (PBB) to ... multi-drug resistant forms of Gram-negative bacteria.   The assets ... Ltd, a PBB group company. "The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... HACKENSACK, N.J. , Feb. 16, 2017  Champions ... engaged in the development and sale of advanced technology ... of oncology drugs, today announced the addition of new ... These new models will expand Champions, product ... cancer, head and neck cancer, AML, and non-small cell ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... and NEW YORK , Feb. 16, ... completion of their $7M Series B financing, adding an ... the $3.5M led by Mesa Verde Venture Partners and ... resources will be directed towards further accelerating commercial adoption ... comprehensive genomic profiling test and expanding the Paradigm cancer ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... , 15. Februar 2017  Trianni, Inc. ... Biotech, Inc. (Janssen) eine Lizenzvereinbarung über die Verwendung ... Klasse führenden Plattform für die Entdeckung monoklonaler Antikörper. ... ihr neuartiges chimäres Gensegmentdesign aus, das Janssen ... humanen Antikörpern bietet und das für die schelle ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... -- Windtree Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: WINT ), ... therapies for respiratory diseases, will host a conference call ... EST on Thursday, February 16, 2017 to provide updates ... announced closing of a $10.5 million private offering and ... in the live call and take part in the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: