IIT-Bombay researchers have identified a bacterial strain from the campus that will remove pesticide carbaryl from the soil.
Carbaryl pesticide is a known carcinogen but is widely used in the agriculture sector.
It is persistent in nature and it pollutes both soil and water ecosystems.
The bacterial strain isolated from the campus uses carbaryl as its carbon and nitrogen source for growth.
The research team also identified the metabolic pathway in the bacteria that are involved in the bioremediation process.
The bacterial species is yet to be identified but it comes under Pseudomonas genus.
It is found that the bacteria can grow in a supplemented medium with a high concentration of carbaryl.
The bacteria secrete an enzyme ‘carbaryl hydrolase’ which breakdown carbaryl into ‘1-naphthol’ and ‘methylamine’.
1-naphthol is used as a carbon source while methylamine is used as a nitrogen source.
Researchers note that there are bacterial species like Rhodococcus, Arthrobacter that degrade carbaryl but the new strain is highly efficient.
It will completely degrade the pesticide in 12-12 hours which is four times faster than other bacterial strains.
The team also found that the bacteria have special genes to degrade carbaryl and are of the opinion that it might have got the genes from other microbes that are capable of degrading carbaryl. That is through ‘horizontal gene transfer’ than vertical gene transfer which is from parents to offsprings.
Researchers have also found that the bacteria have adapted themselves to new pesticides that are recently introduced. This is both through horizontal gene transfer and evolving their own genes.
Identification of such bacteria will help in reducing soil pollution due to overuse of pesticides.