Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

Scientists find alga that can detoxify arsenic.



Byline: ANI

Washington, March 10 (ANI): Scientists have found an alga in Yellowstone National Park, US, that can detoxify de·tox·i·fy
v.
1. To counteract or destroy the toxic properties of a substance.

2. To remove the effects of poison from something, such as the blood.

3.
 arsenic.

"The alga - a simple one-celled algae algae (ăl`jē) [plural of Lat. alga=seaweed], a large and diverse group of primarily aquatic plantlike organisms. These organisms were previously classified as a primitive subkingdom of the plant kingdom, the thallophytes (plants that  called Cyanidioschyzon - thrives in extremely toxic conditions and chemically modifies arsenic that occurs naturally around hot springs," said Tim McDermott, professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University.

Cyanidioschyzon could someday help reclaim arsenic-laden mine waste and aid in everything from space exploration to creating safer foods and herbicides, the scientist added.

Arsenic is the most common toxic substance in the environment, ranking first on the Superfund list of hazardous substances.

According to McDermott, arsenic is very common in the hot, acidic waters of Yellowstone and presents real challenges for microorganisms living in these conditions.

McDermott said that the acid in the soil and water are strong enough that it sometimes eats holes through his jeans when he kneels to collect samples.

McDermott has worked in Yellowstone for more than a decade and travels year-round to the Norris Geyser Basin to study the microbial microbial

pertaining to or emanating from a microbe.


microbial digestion
the breakdown of organic material, especially feedstuffs, by microbial organisms.
 mats that grow in acidic springs.

Over the years, he noticed thick algae mats that were so lush and green in December that they looked like Astro-Turf.

By June, they were practically gone.

While investigating the change, McDermott and his collaborators learned about the Cyanidiales alga and its ability to reduce arsenic to a less dangerous form.

"These algae are such a dominant member of the microbiology community that they can't escape notice, but for some reason they have not attracted much attention," McDermott said.

The Cyanidioschyzon algae grow all over Yellowstone, but the researchers concentrated on the Norris Geyser Basin.

The alga thrives in water up to 135 degrees Fahrenheit with a very acidic pH factor ranging from 0.5 to 3.5.

"These algae live in areas of Yellowstone that are extremely toxic with respect to arsenic," McDermott said. "You couldn't drink these waters even if you changed their pH," he added.

The scientists cloned genes from the alga, then studied the enzymes to figure out how they transformed arsenic.

They learned that the alga oxidizes, reduces and converts arsenic to several forms that are less toxic than the original.

McDermott said that the scientists conducted basic research that may have implications someday for acid mine drainage Acid mine drainage (AMD), or acid rock drainage (ARD), refers to the outflow of acidic water from (usually) abandoned metal mines or coal mines. However, other areas where the earth has been disturbed (e.g.  and acid rock drainage remediation efforts. (ANI)

Copyright 2009 Asian News International The Asian News International (ANI) agency provides multimedia news to China and 50 bureaus in India. It covers virtually all of South Asia since its foundation and presently claims, on its official website, to be the leading South Asia-wide news agency.  (ANI) - All Rights Reserved.

Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company
COPYRIGHT 2009 Al Bawaba (Middle East) Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Asian News International
Date:Mar 10, 2009
Words:409
Previous Article:Mike Tyson's tickling comic act in movie 'The Hangover'.
Next Article:Sean Penn in talks to star in "Cartel".
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters