Abstract: Characterization of Heavy Metal Resistance Genes in the Soil Bacteria Serratia proteamaculens
Mentor: Dr. Donald Lightfoot, Biology
The leaching of heavy metals into soil due to mining and other industrial operations and the effect of this pollution on the environment, human health and the economy are growing concerns. In recent years, as the amount of heavy metal in the soil has increased, many strategies have been developed to decrease the amount of soil contaminants. The science of bioremediation focuses on employing heavy metal resistance mechanisms isolated from indigenous microbes to clean up this type of contamination. Many microorganisms have been shown to have metal resistance or sensitivity in response to increasing heavy metal concentrations. Of particular interest in this type of study are the specific genes responsible for the aforementioned mechanisms. Heavy metal resistance occurs by a variety mechanisms, including sequestration, efflux, reduced uptake, detoxification, and synthesis of binding proteins. (Uptake of zinc in Pseudo...) Microorganisms have been show to alter metal chemistry and mobility through reduction, accumulation, mobilization, and immobilization. (Effect of Toxic Metals on Indigenous Soil...) Trace metals, such as zinc, copper and iron are required to sustain life. However, an excess of these metals can cause extensive damage to the environment and also an essential element in microbial metabolism. (Uptake of zinc in pseudo...) The use of bioremediation to eliminate or reduce heavy metal contamination in the environment has shown promise in recent years.
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