IIT-Bombay researchers discover bacteria that might eliminate pollutants

Researchers from IIT-Bombay have discovered an organism that preferentially feeds on hazardous aromatic pollutants. The discovery of this strain of bacterium, called Pseudomonas putida CSV86, can help in eliminating a diverse range of aromatic pollutants such as naphthalene, benzoate, plastics and industrial chemicals.

The findings of the study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, could help in getting rid of pollutants in wastewater by breaking them down into safer chemicals.“Most living organisms are known for consuming glucose over other complex compounds in the process of degradation,”said Professor Prashant Phale, from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT-Bombay. “This preferential behaviour of living organism choosing the simple source of carbon first – in this case glucose – is well known as carbon catabolite repression in biochemistry. However, this particular strain of bacteria showed the exact opposite behaviour when we studied it in isolation,” he added.

“The strain, displaying the unique property, is only with us at IIT-Bombay and has not been reported by any research group or in any scientific literature,” said Phale. He added that their findings could help in producing genetically engineered CSV86 strain to efficiently break down any desired aromatic compound. “It could also find an important application in the field of agriculture. The strain introduced into the soil could be used to preferentially degrade aromatic components of pesticides and insecticides to naturally cleanse the environment without harming the plants.