In the present scenario of industrialization and development, pollution of all kinds is on the rise. A major part of the pollution is contributed by oil spills. These disasters occur quite often leading to decontamination. This decontamination requires attention in terms of massive investments of time and resources. Lately, an easy solution to this serious damage has been found i.e. Alcanivorax borkumensis -- a bacterium that feeds on hydrocarbons.
Laboratory tests were conducted by Professor Satinder Kaur Brar and her team at INRS. It showed the effectiveness of enzymes produced by the bacterium in degrading petroleum products in soil and water. Researchers involved themselves into the sequencing of the genomes of thousands of bacteria from various sources. Research associate Dr.Tarek Rouissi emphasized on the enzymes they produce and the conditions in which they evolve. He observed the presence of A. borkumensis, a non-pathogenic marine bacterium. The microorganism's genome consists of the codes of a number of interesting enzymes and it is classified as "hydrocarbonoclastic" -- i.e., as a bacterium that uses hydrocarbons as a source of energy. The presence of this marine bacterium has been found in all oceans and drifts with the current. It multiplies especially in those regions where the accumulation of oil compounds is high. This is basically the reason behind the natural degradation that takes place after some spills. Further the team of researchers purified some enzymes and used them to treat samples of contaminated soil. This technique has proved to be useful in removing benzene, toluene, and xylene. It has undergone various tests under extreme conditions to reflect that it is a great way to clean up polluted land and marine environments. The most advantageous aspect of this technique is its application in difficult-to-access environments.
By: Anuja Arora