Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Could microbes solve Russia’s chemical weapons conundrum?

07.03.2005


One of nature’s most versatile microorganisms – a bacterium called Pseudomonas putida – could help mop up the toxic by-products caused by the destruction of the chemical weapon mustard, write Russian researchers in Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology this month.



At 40’000 tonnes, Russia houses the world’s largest stockpile of chemical warfare agents (CWAs). The country faces a race against time to dispose of the stockpile by 2007, in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This disposal must be achieved in an ecologically-sound manner.

Dr Inna Ermakova and colleagues from the GK Skryabin Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Puschino examined the possibility of using P putida to transform the toxic by-products contained in reaction masses (RMs) that arise when mustard is destroyed by chemical detoxification (a procedure developed in response to the CWC).


Currently, incineration or a process called bitumenisation are employed to deal with RMs, however both methods are highly expensive and pose environmental risks.

Mustard is a blistering agent that was first used in World War I. Found in both liquid and aerosol form (mustard gas), it can cause severe burns to the skin, and severe damage to the respiratory system and internal organs if ingested or inhaled. It accounts for around 2% of Russia’s CWA stockpile.

Around 60% of the mustard RM consists of derivatives of a toxic compound called 1,4-perhydrothiazine (PHT).

Ermakova’s research team grew P putida in cultures containing mustard RM. They then monitored the levels of PHT derivatives in the cultures until the bacteria stopped growing, using monoethanolamine (MEA) and ethylene glycol (EG) – both residual components of the initial detoxification process that are present in the RM – for growth.

The results showed that the concentrations of each PHT derivative decreased significantly when P putida was grown in the presence of these carbon sources. By the time the bacteria had stopped growing, the concentration of the PHT derivatives had decreased by 50-55%. When further MEA and EG were added, the overall PHT decrease was 83%. In the absence of a carbon source other than PHT, the PHT levels remained constant. When no bacteria were present, the PHT concentrations also remained constant.

The authors conclude that the 1,4-perhydrothiazines undergo transformation by the microbial cells when a growth substrate (MEA/EG) is present. However as the cells did not grow in the presence of PHT alone, the authors conclude that the bacteria cannot use them for growth.

The group hopes that the bacterial strain can be used in the context of plant-microbial associations to create a new generation of biotechnologies for remediation of soils contaminated by CWAs or products of their detoxification. “Bioutilization of organic compounds of reaction masses is a biotechnological method that provides maximum environmental safety, since the pollutants are naturally degraded to innocuous products such as carbon dioxide and water, as well as microbial biomass,” said Dr Ermakova.

Jacqueline Ali | alfa
Further information:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/2517
http://www.soci.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

MEMS chips get metatlenses

21.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

International team publishes roadmap to enhance radioresistance for space colonization

21.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

World's first solar fuels reactor for night passes test

21.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>