Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In the lab, scientists coax E. coli to resist radiation damage

Date:
March 14, 2014
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Capitalizing on the ability of an organism to evolve in response to punishment from a hostile environment, scientists have coaxed the model bacterium Escherichia coli to dramatically resist ionizing radiation and, in the process, reveal the genetic mechanisms that make the feat possible. The study provides evidence that just a handful of genetic mutations give E. coli the capacity to withstand doses of radiation that would otherwise doom the microbe. The findings are important because they have implications for better understanding how organisms can resist radiation damage to cells and repair damaged DNA.

Capitalizing on the ability of an organism to evolve in response to punishment from a hostile environment, scientists have coaxed the model bacterium Escherichia coli to dramatically resist ionizing radiation and, in the process, reveal the genetic mechanisms that make the feat possible.

The study, published in the online journal eLife, provides evidence that just a handful of genetic mutations give E. coli the capacity to withstand doses of radiation that would otherwise doom the microbe. The findings are important because they have implications for better understanding how organisms can resist radiation damage to cells and repair damaged DNA.

"What our work shows is that the repair systems can adapt and those adaptations contribute a lot to radiation resistance," says University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemistry Professor Michael Cox, the senior author of the eLife report.

In previous work, Cox and his group, working with John R. Battista, a professor of biological sciences at Louisiana State University, showed that E. coli could evolve to resist ionizing radiation by exposing cultures of the bacterium to the highly radioactive isotope cobalt-60. "We blasted the cultures until 99 percent of the bacteria were dead. Then we'd grow up the survivors and blast them again. We did that twenty times," explains Cox.

The result were E. coli capable of enduring as much as four orders of magnitude more ionizing radiation, making them similar to Deinococcus radiodurans, a desert-dwelling bacterium found in the 1950s to be remarkably resistant to radiation. That bacterium is capable of surviving more than one thousand times the radiation dose that would kill a human. "Deinococcus evolved mainly to survive desiccation, not radiation," Cox says, "so when conditions are right, it can repair damage very quickly and start growing again."

Understanding the molecular machinery that allows some organisms to survive what would otherwise be lethal doses of radiation is important because the same bacterial machinery that repairs DNA and protects cells in microbes exists in humans and other organisms. Although turning the new findings into application is in the distant future, the results could ultimately contribute designer microbes capable of helping clean radioactive waste sites or making probiotics that could aid patients undergoing radiation therapy for some cancers.

The new study demonstrates that organisms can actively repair genetic damage from ionizing radiation. Prior to the new work, scientists thought the ability of cells to resist radiation stemmed primarily from their ability to detoxify the reactive oxygen molecules created by radiation within cells.

That passive detoxification approach, notes Cox, is most likely working in tandem with active mechanisms such as the mutations found by the Wisconsin group as well as other, yet-to-be-discovered mechanisms.

"This extreme resistance we're looking at is a complicated phenotype," says Cox. "There are likely additional mechanisms buried in this data and we're working to pull those out."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by Terry Devitt. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. T. Byrne, A. J. Klingele, E. L. Cabot, W. S. Schackwitz, J. A. Martin, J. Martin, Z. Wang, E. A. Wood, C. Pennacchio, L. A. Pennacchio, N. T. Perna, J. R. Battista, M. M. Cox. Evolution of extreme resistance to ionizing radiation via genetic adaptation of DNA repair. eLife, 2014; 3 (0): e01322 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.01322

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "In the lab, scientists coax E. coli to resist radiation damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140314164119.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2014, March 14). In the lab, scientists coax E. coli to resist radiation damage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140314164119.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "In the lab, scientists coax E. coli to resist radiation damage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140314164119.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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