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Oct 23, 2015 07:31 AM EDT

Bacteria found in deep sea could help neutralize industrial carbon dioxide


A deep sea bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean could neutralize industrial carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, a new study reveals, as reported by the Market business.

The group of University of Florida researchers, who carried out the research, found that the bacterium produces an enzyme that helps convert carbon dioxide into a harmless compound.

"This little critter has evolved to deal with those extreme temperature and pressure problems. It has already adapted to some of the conditions it would face in an industrial setting," said Robert McKenna, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine, a part of UF Health.

The bacterium, Thiomicrospira crunogena, produces carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that helps remove carbon dioxide in organisms.

The findings by the McKenna group, which included graduate research assistants Brian Mahon and Avni Bhatt, were published recently in the journals Acta Crystallographica D: Biological Crystallography and Chemical Engineering Science.

Since the deep-sea bacterium thrives near hydrothermal vents, it is accustomed to high temperatures. That makes it appropriate to work during the process of reducing industrial carbon dioxide, said Robert McKenna.

McKenna's group also found a way to produce the enzyme without repeatedly harvesting it from the sea floor. The enzyme can be produced in a laboratory using a genetically engineered version of the common E. coli bacteria.

Bhatt said that more research will be required to produce a variant of the enzyme that is both heat-tolerant and fast-acting enough for industrial settings. Also, the team would want to make the enzyme more stable and increase its longevity.

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