Printer Friendly

Microbe polishes off pollutant.

A soil microbe has been quietly and competently cleaning up what would otherwise be a persistent environmental pollutant, researchers report in the Nov. 8 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Studies had established that the soil-dwelling bacterium Pseudomonas pavonaceae breaks down a pesticide residue called 3-chloroacrylic acid. Richard V. Wolfenden and Christopher M. Horvat of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wanted to determine how long this residue would remain in. the environment if the bacterium didn't digest it.

By measuring the residue's decomposition rate at various temperatures, the researchers found that spontaneous decomposition would take a whopping 10,000 years to cut the residue's abundance in half--a persistence comparable to that of plutonium 239.

In contrast, an enzyme in the microbe can clear soil of 3-chloroacrylic acid in a matter of seconds.

Absent the microbe, the residue would "stick around for cons," building up in the soil and contaminating groundwater, says Wolfenden. He adds that the residue-busting activity appears to be a happy accident. The enzyme "doesn't seem to be designed with [the residue] in mind," he says.--A.C.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Pseudomonas pavonaceae
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 17, 2005
Previous Article:Changes in the air: variations in atmospheric oxygen have affected evolution in big ways.
Next Article:Dark shadows.

Related Articles
Pipe-dwelling bacteria use slimy strategy.
Stream bed bugs eat gasoline pollutants.
Microbial materials: scientists co-opt viruses, bacteria, and fungi to build new structures.
Hungry for hydrogen: microbes in hot springs feed on unlikely source.
Models predict the heat inactivation of L. monocytogenes in biofilms.
Human immune signal sets off bacterial attack.
Big oil, tiny barons: microbes can unleash trapped petroleum.
Squeezing oil from old wells.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters