Monday, March 29, 2021

449 - Paralyzed Poisons Push Power

Hydrothermal vent
This episode: Deep-sea bacteria can detoxify cadmium and convert it to light-capturing particles!

Download Episode (5.8 MB, 8.4 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Arthrobacter virus Sonny

Hydrothermal vents can have thriving communities, despite being too deep for much light to penetrate. Microbes can derive energy from chemicals coming out of the vent, and form the foundation of the food chain. But toxic heavy metals also come out of the vent, including lead, mercury, and cadmium.

The microbes in this study were found to be resistant to cadmium, which they can detoxify by combining it with the sulfur found in the amino acid cysteine. This forms cadmium-sulfur nanoparticles, which can function as light-absorbing semiconductors, allowing the bacteria to harvest light energy.

Journal Paper:
Ma N, Sha Z, Sun C. 2021. Formation of cadmium sulfide nanoparticles mediates cadmium resistance and light utilization of the deep-sea bacterium Idiomarina sp. OT37-5b. Environ Microbiol 23:934–948.

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