Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists discover the gene that causes the smell of the earth and leads camels to water

05.02.2003


Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich have discovered the gene that gives freshly turned soil its distinctive smell. A smell, it is believed, that enables camels to find water in the desert. The ‘earthy’ smell is caused by geosmin, a chemical produced by a common bacterium, Streptomyces coelicolor, that is found in most soils. The discovery of the gene that produces geosmin is reported in the International science journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.



“The smell of Streptomyces may be a matter of life and death to the camel” said Professor Keith Chater (Head of Molecular Microbiology at JIC), “but these bacteria are also of enormous importance to humans as they are a major source of the antibiotics we use in medicine. This discovery was made using a technique that will allow us to better understand how Streptomyces makes the chemicals that are so important to us.”

The JIC researchers tracked down the source of Streptomyces’ smell to one gene out of the 8,000 that make up its complete genome. The Norwich scientists have been studying Streptomyces for years because of its importance as a natural chemical factory that makes a large number of useful medicines, it produces anti-cancer agents and immuno-suppressants as well as antibiotics. A year ago the JIC team, working with colleagues at the Sanger Centre near Cambridge, announced they had completely sequenced all 8,000 genes of Streptomyces. Their next challenge was to sort out what each of these 8,000 genes did. Fortunately, they had just invented a method to selectively switch off individual genes and so they began to use this to study the genes of Streptomyces. Among the 8,000 genes were a couple that the scientists thought might be responsible for making geosmin, so they tried switching them off to see what happened. Sure enough, switching off one of the genes eliminated the smell, and when they checked they found that the bacteria no longer made geosmin.


“Our discovery may seem a bit trivial but it demonstrates that we can now unravel how all the genes in this important bacteria work ” said Professor Chater . He concluded, “The discovery is not as useless as it first seems. Gardeners may delight in the smell of geosmin in freshly turned soil but the smell is less welcome when it is produced by pharmaceutical factories that are growing Streptomyces to produce antibiotics. By shutting down the bacteria’s ability to produce geosmin we can make the factories less smelly neighbours.”

Ray Mathias | alfa
Further information:
http://www.jic.bbsrc.ac.uk/index.htm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

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...

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

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>