Haloa there!

Published: Tuesday 15 October 1996

How do some species of bacteria and a species of algae manage to survive in the inhospitable salty waters of the Dead Sea? Researchers in Israel and USA have got an answer for at least one such bacterium, Haloarcula marismortui . Since a high concentration of salts pull water molecules away from the proteins which precipitate, to function normally, proteins must stay in solution. The Haloarcula has a unique protein that protects it from the depredations of salt. Called ferredoxin, the protein is rich in glutamic and aspartic acids, two amino acid building blocks with a very strong affinity for water molecules, which snatch water away from the salt keeping the proteins in solution.

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