Tag Archives: bioremediation

Tiny acts of microbe justice help reveal how nature fights freeloaders

The idea of everyone in a community pitching in is so universal that even bacteria have a system to prevent the layabouts of their kind from enjoying the fruit of others’ hard work, Princeton University researchers have discovered.

Groups of the bacteria Vibrio cholerae deny loafers their unjust desserts by keeping the food generated by the community’s productive members away from V. cholerae that attempt to live on others’ leftover nutrients, the researchers report in the journal Current Biology. The researchers found that individual bacteria produce a thick coating around themselves to prevent nutrients from drifting over to the undeserving. Alternatively, the natural flow of fluids over the surface of bacterial communities can wash away excess food before the freeloaders can indulge. (more…)

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Petroleum-eating Mushrooms

Take a Petri dish containing crude petroleum and it will release a strong odor distinctive of the toxins that make up the fossil fuel. Sprinkle mushroom spores over the Petri dish and let it sit for two weeks in an incubator, and surprise, the petroleum and its smell will disappear. “The mushrooms consumed the petroleum!” says Mohamed Hijri, a professor of biological sciences and researcher at the University of Montreal’s Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV).

Hijri co-directs a project with B. Franz Lang promoting nature as the number one ally in the fight against contamination. Lang holds the Canada Research Chair on Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics and is a professor at the university’s Department of Biochemistry. By using bacteria to stimulate the exceptional growth capacity of certain plants and microscopic mushrooms, Hijri and Lang believe they are able to create in situ decontamination units able to successfully attack the most contaminated sites on the planet. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Researchers Create First of Its Kind Gene Map of Sulfate-reducing Bacterium: Work Holds Implications for Future Bioremediation Efforts

Critical genetic secrets of a bacterium that holds potential for removing toxic and radioactive waste from the environment have been revealed in a study by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The researchers have provided the first ever map of the genes that determine how these bacteria interact with their surrounding environment.

“Knowing how bacteria respond to environmental changes is crucial to our understanding of how their physiology tracks with consequences that are both good, such as bioremediation, and bad, such as biofouling,” says Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, who led this research. “We have reported the first systematic mapping of the genes in a sulfate-reducing bacterium – Desulfovibrio vulgaris – that regulate the mechanisms by which the bacteria perceive and respond to environmental signals.” (more…)

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Yale Students’ Trip to Rainforest Yields New Way to Degrade Plastic

Organisms discovered by Yale undergraduates growing within fungi in the Amazon Rainforest can degrade polyurethane, a findings that may lead to innovative ways to reduce waste in the world’s landfills.

The paper, accepted for publication in July by the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is the work of undergraduates who participated in Yale’s Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. (more…)

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Soil pollution from PCBs

These are compounds that were produced as industrial chemicals (man-made organic compounds, synthetic) and used in lubricating oils, paints, in carbonless copy paper (non-carbon copy paper – an alternative to carbon paper), in electrical insulators and in many other industrial and commercial products.

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