ENVT 200 03

Blog #5 Assignment

This article is about some kind of bacterium that can help clean up pollution and oil spills. I picked this because it really piqued my interest on how bacteria can get rid of stuff that is harming the environment.

Oil spills and their impact on the environment are a source of concern. These disasters occur on a regular basis. This leads to so much decontamination challenges that requires a lot of time and resources. Researchers sequenced the genomes of thousands of bacteria from various sources. Dr. Tarek Rouissi, a researcher associate, poured over “technical data sheets” for many bacterial strains with the aim of finding the perfect candidate for a dirty job: cleaning up oil spills. He focused on the enzymes they produce and the conditions in which they evolve.

A non-pathogenic marine bacterium, Alcanivorax borkumensis, made Dr. Rouissi quite curious. The microorganism’s genome contains the codes of a number of interesting enzymes and it is classified as “hydrocarbonoclastic”. In other words, it is classified as a bacterium that uses hydrocarbons as a source of energy. A. borkumensis is present in all oceans and drifts with the current, multiplying rapidly in areas where the concentration of oil compounds is high, which partly explains the natural degradation observed after some spills. But its remedial potential had not been assessed.A. borkumensis boasts an impressive set of tools: during its evolution, it has accumulated a range of very specific enzymes that degrade almost everything found in oil. Among these enzymes, the bacteria’shydroxylases stand out from the ones found in other species: they are far more effective, in addition to being more versatile and resistant to chemical conditions. The research team purified a few of the enzymes and used them to treat samples of contaminated soil. According to Professor Satinder Kaur Brar, The degradation of hydrocarbons using the crude enzyme extract is really encouraging and reached over 80% for various compounds. It is potent in taking out benzene, toluene, and xylene, and tested under a number of different conditions to show that it is a powerful way to clean up polluted land and marine environments.

Source: “An Oil-Eating Bacterium That Can Help Clean up Pollution and Spills.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 9 Apr. 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180409144725.htm.

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