Science & Technology

Making rubber recycling eco-friendly

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi identified bacteria involved in breaking down natural rubber in order to make it environmentally safe

 
By Monika Kundu Srivastava
Last Updated: Wednesday 18 July 2018
The work centered around Xanthomonas bacteria (sp. strain 35Y) – the only known Gram-negative bacteria - used in the process of breaking down natural rubber. Credit: CIAT/Flickr
The work centered around Xanthomonas bacteria (sp. strain 35Y) – the only known Gram-negative bacteria - used in the process of breaking down natural rubber. Credit: CIAT/Flickr The work centered around Xanthomonas bacteria (sp. strain 35Y) – the only known Gram-negative bacteria - used in the process of breaking down natural rubber. Credit: CIAT/Flickr

A group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh have documented steps involved in breaking down natural rubber in order to make it environmentally safe. In the process, they have succeeded in identifying the bacteria responsible for the same. The work centered around Xanthomonas bacteria (sp. strain 35Y) – the only known Gram-negative bacteria - used in the process of breaking down natural rubber.

After analysing genetic material of the bacteria, it became clear that the strain 35Y did not belong to the genus Xanthomonasat all. The specific strain of bacteria had a completely different profile from what was documented. Previous records placed 35Y strain under Xanthomonas based on the presence of a yellow pigment, how it acted on other substances and that it could move about from one place to the other due to small hair-like structures which functioned as its legs.

However, comparison with other bacterial strains from the GenBank database revealed similarities with the bacteria of the genus Steroidobacter within the family Sinobacteraceaein manymore ways. The study, thus, established that the bacterial strain 35Y is a novel species in the genus Steroidobacter. Scientists proposed to name it Steroidobacter cummioxidans to show its ability to breakdown rubber using oxygen.

It was also found that Scummioxidans strain 35Y had some similarities but also substantial differences with other rubber-degrading Gram-positive counterparts. The most significant difference being that the main transporters for the enzymes causing the breakdown of rubber differ from Gram-positive rubber-degrading species. Scummioxidans strain 35Y also degradesrubber faster (almost 60 per cent within one week) vis-à-vis Gram-positive bacteria. This proves that strain 35Y is one of the relatively faster rubber-degrading microbes in comparison to others, says the study published in journal PLOS. (India Science Wire)

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.