Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Outsmarting algae -- RIT scientist finds the turn-off switch

14.09.2011
Professor André Hudson's research could advance algaecide development
Algaecide is no crime.

Consider that some strains of algae produce toxins lethal to wildlife, fish and plants. Even the less harmful varieties suck oxygen out of water, suffocating living creatures in lakes, ponds, pools and aquariums. Recent algal blooms in the Great Lakes, for instance, threaten critical ecosystems.

Rochester Institute of Technology scientist André Hudson and colleagues have figured out how to outsmart the organism.

"We have recently deciphered the structure of an essential enzyme in the photosynthetic organism that is a target for algaecide development," says Hudson, assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences in RIT's College of Science.

All organisms that undergo photosynthesis—plants (multi-cellular), algae (single-cellular) and certain kinds of bacteria—produce lysine, an amino acid, or a building block of protein for growth and development. Humans and animals cannot make lysine and must acquire the essential amino acid directly or indirectly from fruits and vegetables.

Hudson discovered a new pathway for lysine synthesis in plants and certain pathogenic bacteria in 2006 while working as a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University. His current research is aimed at finding targets for the enzymes associated with the lysine biosynthesis pathways.

"Since humans do not possess any of the enzymatic machinery to make lysine—and now that we know that is it an essential enzyme in all photosynthetic organisms—we can develop a compound that would block the enzyme from functioning in algae. It won't affect humans because we don't have the pathway(s) to begin with," Hudson says.

An important first step for algaecide development was the crystallization of the enzyme conducted by Hudson's colleague Renwick Dobson, professor at the University of Melbourne and University of Canterbury.

The process of protein crystallography separates proteins from the solution in which they are suspended. The next step shoots an X-ray beam through the freed crystals to reveal, with the help of computer algorithms, how the protein is folded in its three-dimensional configuration.

"This is important because once you know where the substrate—the key—fits into the enzyme—the lock—one can design a pseudo substrate compound that looks like the natural substrate but it's a better 'key for the lock.' It will prevent the natural key from opening the door, inhibiting or blocking the enzyme from functioning."

Solving the three-dimensional structure for the algae enzyme gives scientists a map for developing an algaecide that will target the organism without harming other plant life growing in the same environment.

Undergraduate student Irma Girón co-authored both papers with Hudson and Dobson. The biotechnology major presented a poster at the American Society for Plant Biologists meeting, in August in Minnesota, describing how the algae enzyme can be used as an algaecide target.

"It's not typical for an undergraduate students to have two published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals before they graduate," Hudson says. "Irma was very instrumental in getting both publications."

The research team submitted their information revealing the structure of the algae enzyme to the Protein Data Bank, a public database available to scientists around the world.

"The database is a source for scientists who can take this information to the next step to find the right inhibitors for the enzyme and produce an actual algaecide, if they are willing and able," Hudson says.

Hudson's results were published recently in Acta Crystallographica Section F and PLoS ONE.

Susan Gawlowicz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rit.edu

Further reports about: Hudson RIT algal bloom amino acid essential enzyme

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar Collectors from Ultra-High Performance Concrete Combine Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News

3D scans for the automotive industry

16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering

Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

16.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>