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IIT Bombay’s bacteria preferentially degrade aromatic compounds

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bamboo Rice

Mains level : Bioremediation

  • Using a unique strain of bacterium isolated from soil contaminated with petroleum products, IIT Bombay researchers selectively removed from the environment toxic pollutants.

Pseudomonas Putida CSV86

  • The bacteria helped selectively remove pollutants such aas aromatic pollutants such as benzoate (sodium benzoate is used as a food preservative), benzyl alcohol and naphthalene.
  • The strain can degrade aromatics and organic acids simultaneously.

What makes this bacterium so special?

  • The unique feature of the bacterial strain is its preference for aromatic compounds and organic acid as a food source even when glucose is available.
  • Since breaking down aromatic compounds is difficult, bacteria generally prefer simple carbon sources such as glucose for obtaining energy.
  • Even the bacteria that are known to degrade aromatic compounds tend to first prefer glucose and other simple carbon sources for energy and feed on aromatic compounds only when glucose gets exhausted.
  • Even when both benzoate and glucose were available, the bacteria first utilized benzoate, and only when it was exhausted did it start feeding on glucose.
  • This gives an advantage to remove the pollutants with priority even in the presence of simple carbon source from the contaminated site.

Significance

  • The bacterial strain is a very good candidate for bioremediation or waste-water treatment.
  • We can increase the metabolic diversity and capacity by genetically engineering the strain.
  • The team hopes to engineer the strain so it can be directly applied to the soil to preferentially degrade aromatic pesticides.
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