Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fussy Microbe Holds Promise For Environmental Cleanup

Date:
November 4, 2002
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Scientists at Michigan State University have found an elusive microbe whose world-class pickiness is a key to one of the most nagging concerns in the cleanup of a common type of environmental toxin.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Scientists at Michigan State University have found an elusive microbe whose world-class pickiness is a key to one of the most nagging concerns in the cleanup of a common type of environmental toxin.

In this week's issue of Science, researchers from MSU's Center for Microbial Ecology report the discovery of a microbe dredged from the bottom of the Hudson River that has an insatiable appetite to break down the environmental pollutant TCA.

"TCA was one of the remaining groundwater pollutants for which biodegradation had not been resolved," said James Tiedje, a University Distinguished Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and of crop and soil sciences. "Till now, there wasn't good evidence there was a biodegradable solution."

That means the bacterium shows promise as the missing piece of the puzzle to clean up soil and groundwater that is contaminated by multiple chlorinated solvents. Microbes that munch other toxins have been isolated, but TCA-eating bugs have remained a mystery.

"For a while, people didn't think this bug existed," said postdoctoral student and co-author Baolin Sun. "Now we've solved it."

TCA – 1,1,1-Trichloroethane – is a common industrial solvent that's found in half of the U.S. Superfund sites. As a pollutant, it packs a double punch, contaminating groundwater as well as eroding the ozone layer when released into the atmosphere.

In the Science article "Microbial Dehalorespiration with 1,1,1-Trichloroethane," Tiedje's team identified TCA1, an anaerobic bacterium with a single-minded taste for TCA.

"This is the first bacterium that breathes the chlorinated solvent TCA," said MSU doctoral student Benjamin Griffin. "It breathes TCA, and the only way we know how to grow the bacteria is to feed it TCA."

The MSU group found TCA1 in the sediment of the upper Hudson River in New York. The bacterium also occurs naturally in Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

TCA1 handily chows on the toxin, converting it to chloroethane, a less toxic substance that can then be easily degraded by aerobic microbes in soil. The beauty of the newly discovered bacterium is that it does its work under water, preventing the toxin from escaping into the atmosphere and causing ozone depletion.

Finding TCA1 and understanding how to make it thrive is a first step in devising ways to put the bacterium to work cleaning up contaminated sites that until now were left with a piece of the puzzle unsolved.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Fussy Microbe Holds Promise For Environmental Cleanup." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021101070716.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2002, November 4). Fussy Microbe Holds Promise For Environmental Cleanup. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021101070716.htm
Michigan State University. "Fussy Microbe Holds Promise For Environmental Cleanup." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021101070716.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins