The metagenomic study of a "stressed" microbial community in groundwater near a former waste disposal pond site on DOE's Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) revealed microbes with an overabundance of genes involved in DNA recombination and repair and other defense mechanisms for dealing with contaminants and other environmental stresses.
The studies, said ORNL researcher David Watson, are ultimately aimed at developing biologically based methods for reducing the level of the contaminants in the groundwater, which at the ORR site includes nitrates, solvents and heavy metals, including uranium.
"We are looking to better understand the evolution of microbes in the groundwater plume," Watson said. "The microbes that can break down nitrate into nitrogen can have a long-term benefit toward attenuating the plume."
Watson added that researchers particularly want to better understand the genetic makeup of microbes that can metabolize oxidized forms of uranium into a form that is only slightly soluble and thus easier to precipitate and remove from the groundwater environment.
ORNL's Watson was joined in the study by the University of Oklahoma's Jizhong Zhou and Christopher Hemme; Joint Genome Institute Director Eddy Rubin; and a team that included researchers from ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division, the University of Oklahoma's Institute for Environmental Genomics, Montana State University, Michigan State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
They found that the naturally occurring populations of microbes in the polluted groundwater--which consisted of only a few cell types-- had "very simple" genetic structures tuned primarily to overcoming the stresses presented by the toxic soup, which has a highly acidic pH level of 3.5.
The accumulation of genes involved in resistance and responses to stress appears to be a basic survival strategy that has left the microbes with a marked loss in metabolic diversity.
The waste ponds, which are now part of the Oak Ridge Environmental Remediation Sciences Program Integrated Field Research Center, have been out of use for decades and were capped in 1983.
The research, recently published in the on-line ISME (International Society for Microbial Ecology) Journal, is sponsored by DOE's Office of Science.
ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Bill Cabage | EurekAlert!
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research