Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Badwater Basin: Death Valley microbe may spark novel biotech and nanotech uses

Date:
December 28, 2011
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Nevada, the "Silver State," is well-known for mining precious metals. But some scientists do a different type of mining. They sluice through every water body they can find, looking for new forms of microbial magnetism.

Badwater Basin, lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere, at Death Valley National Park.
Credit: Dennis Bazylinski and Christopher Lefèvre

Nevada, the "Silver State," is well-known for mining precious metals. But scientists Dennis Bazylinski and colleagues at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) do a different type of mining.

They sluice through every water body they can find, looking for new forms of microbial magnetism.

In a basin named Badwater on the edge of Death Valley National Park, Bazylinski and researcher Christopher Lefèvre hit pay dirt.

Lefèvre is with the French National Center of Scientific Research and University of Aix-Marseille II.

In a recent issue of the journal Science, Bazylinski, Lefèvre and others report that they identified, isolated and grew a new type of magnetic bacteria that could lead to novel biotech and nanotech uses.

Magnetotactic bacteria are simple, single-celled organisms that are found in almost all bodies of water.

As their name suggests, they orient and navigate along magnetic fields like miniature swimming compass needles.

This is due to the nano-sized crystals of the minerals magnetite or greigite they produce.

The presence of these magnetic crystals makes the bacteria and their internal crystals--called magnetosomes--useful in drug delivery and medical imaging.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy and the French Foundation for Medical Research.

"The finding is significant in showing that this bacterium has specific genes to synthesize magnetite and greigite, and that the proportion of these magnetosomes varies with the chemistry of the environment," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.

While many magnetite-producing bacteria can be grown and easily studied, Bazylinski and his team were the first to cultivate a greigite-producing species. Greigite is an iron sulfide mineral, the equivalent of the iron oxide magnetite.

"Because greigite-producing bacteria have never been isolated, the crystals haven't been tested for the types of biomedical and other applications that currently use magnetite," said Bazylinski.

"Greigite is an iron sulfide that may be superior to magnetite in some applications due to its slightly different physical and magnetic properties. Now we have the opportunity to find out."

Researchers found the greigite-producing bacterium, called BW-1, in water samples collected more than 280 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin. Lefèvre and Bazylinski later isolated and grew it leading to the discovery that BW-1 produces both greigite and magnetite.

A detailed look at its DNA revealed that BW-1 has two sets of magnetosome genes, unlike other such bacteria, which produce only one mineral and have only one set of magnetosome genes.

This suggests that the production of magnetite and greigite in BW-1 is likely controlled by separate sets of genes. That could be important in the mass production of either mineral for specific applications.

According to Bazylinski, the greigite-producing bacteria represent a new, previously unrecognized group of sulfate-reducing bacteria that "breathe" the compound sulfate rather than oxygen as most living organisms do.

"With how much is known about sulfate-reducing bacteria, it's surprising that no one has described this group," he said.

Working with Bazylinski and Lefèvre on the project are David Pignol of the French National Center of Scientific Research and University of Aix-Marseille II; Nicolas Menguy of Pierre and Marie Curie University, France; Fernanda Abreu and Ulysses Lins of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mihaly Pósfai of the University of Pannonia, Hungary; Tanya Prozorov of Ames Laboratory, Iowa; and Richard Frankel of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. C. T. Lefevre, N. Menguy, F. Abreu, U. Lins, M. Posfai, T. Prozorov, D. Pignol, R. B. Frankel, D. A. Bazylinski. A Cultured Greigite-Producing Magnetotactic Bacterium in a Novel Group of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria. Science, 2011; 334 (6063): 1720 DOI: 10.1126/science.1212596

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Badwater Basin: Death Valley microbe may spark novel biotech and nanotech uses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111227142623.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2011, December 28). Badwater Basin: Death Valley microbe may spark novel biotech and nanotech uses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111227142623.htm
National Science Foundation. "Badwater Basin: Death Valley microbe may spark novel biotech and nanotech uses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111227142623.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. 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