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Killer Microbe May Be A Lifesaver After All

Date:
August 31, 2005
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Advances in the molecular modeling and simulation of complex biological systems are enabling researchers to study how certain microbial systems may play an important role in the remediation of contaminated soils. One target is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common microbe in sediments and the subsurface. This bacterium is also an important opportunistic pathogen that can cause fatal infections in people with a weakened immune systems.

Computer model of the outer membrane of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, used by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers to explore the interaction with antibiotics and the transport of molecules through membrane proteins.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Advances in the molecular modeling and simulation of complex biologicalsystemsare enabling researchers to study how certain microbial systems mayplay animportant role in the remediation of contaminated soils. One target isPseudomonas aeruginosa, a common microbe in sediments and thesubsurface. This bacterium is also an important opportunistic pathogenthat can cause fatal infections in people with a weakened immunesystems.

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T.P. Straatsma is leading a team of researchers modeling thelipopolysaccharide outer membrane of P. aeruginosa to learn how themembrane responds to its environment. This research is addressing thequestion of how this microbe adsorbs to mineral surfaces and what themechanism is for the uptake and reduction of heavy metals. This hassignifi cant implications for bioremediation applications ifthese metals are radioactive and are reduced to insoluble form toprevent further spreading of the contamination.

In another project, the team also is addressing the healthrelated issuesconcerning this microbe. Again focusing on the outer membrane,Straatsmaand his coworkers are studying the role of a range of proteins embeddedinthe membrane, as well as the mechanism of action of certain antibioticsthat are effective in treating P. aeruginosa infections that plaguecystic fi brosis patients, burn victims and patients with compromisedimmune systems.

###

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher Tjerk Straatsma will be presenting his results at 2:10 p.m.,Monday, Aug. 29.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Killer Microbe May Be A Lifesaver After All." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050831075702.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2005, August 31). Killer Microbe May Be A Lifesaver After All. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050831075702.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Killer Microbe May Be A Lifesaver After All." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050831075702.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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