Using Bacteria to Clean the Environment

Ecology and Environment

The OVPR’s Inquiry blog recently featured work headed by MSI PI Larry Wackett (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics; BioTechnology Institute). Professor Wackett is the lead researcher on a MnDRIVE project that is creating computer models that will predict how bacteria and chemicals interact. The goal is to be able to identify a chemical and then find out what bacteria would be able to break it down. This has huge implications for the field of bioremediation. The story can be read on the Inquiry blog website.

Professor Wackett uses MSI resources for a number of projects that strive to answer important biological questions using computational power. These include data mining of genomes for new functionalities, modeling protein ability for biodegradation, and identification of mechanistic pathways that lead to or prevent catalysis.

MSI PI Carrie Wilmot, who is also a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics and a member of the BioTechnology Institute, is also mentioned in the article. She and her group use X-ray crystallography to study the structure and function of bacterial enzymes used to break down chemicals. They use MSI resources to help with their crystallographic studies.