Novel Approaches for the Detection of Polluting Chemicals in the Environment

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Resource or Project Abstract

Toxic synthetic organic compounds are ubiquitous in our modern environment and pose significant risks to human health. These compounds include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and many toxic chlorinated organic pesticides of concern as environmental pollutants. The glutathione transferases (GST) family of enzymes can play an important role in the detoxification of a wide range of these compounds. The aim of this research project was to investigate (known and novel) bacterial GSTs in environmental samples, and to study microbial diversity in these samples using molecular biological techniques. It was proposed that bacterial GSTs identified in soil/ sediment contaminated with toxic chlorinated organic compounds could have the potential for bioremediation, and for development as bioindicators and biosensors of environmental pollutants, for example, toxic chlorinated organic PCBs and pesticides. A specific bacterial GST, BphKLB400, was to be developed for use as a biosensor and for bioremediation. A number of environmental soil/sediment samples that were of interest as potential sources of bacteria capable of degrading chlorinated organic compounds were sourced, both nationally and internationally, and used for genomic DNA isolation. A highly conserved gene (the 16S rRNA gene), which is used to identify microorganisms present in soil/sediment samples, was further investigated. The DNA sequences of a number of bacterial GSTs capable of degrading organic compounds were analysed so as to identify highly conserved amino acids. These amino acids were then used in the design of experiments to identify (i) bacterial GST sequences (known and novel) in environmental samples and (ii) variants of a specific bacterial GST, BphKLB400, with increased GST towards toxic chlorinated organic compounds found in the environment, which were to be used in the development of biosensors and for bioremediation. A number of bacterial GST sequences of interest (with increased activity towards pollutants) linked to a fluorescent tag were inserted into plantassociated bacteria. These modified bacteria were shown to be capable of colonising plants. However, more work needs to be done to further assess these laboratory-scale experiments. Although many environmental regulatory measures have been adopted in Ireland in recent decades, there has been little regulation regarding the protection of soil or the remediation of contaminated soil. With environmental technologies playing a key role in the Irish government?s Building Ireland?s Smart Economy paper (2008), and a global political shift towards sustainable and green bioremediation technologies, the development of plantassociated bacteria to degrade toxic synthetic organic compounds in environmental soil may provide an efficient, economic, and sustainable green remediation technology for the twenty-first century environment. A relatively simple and inexpensive method (using gas chromotography-mass spectrometry [GC-MS]) was developed for the analysis of soil/sediment samples contaminated with chlorinated organic compounds. In 2006, the European Commission published the final Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and a proposal for a directive that would establish a framework for the protection of soil involving the identification of the location and extent of soil contamination and the requirements for remediation. As an output of this project, it is recommended that this assay be further developed so that when the Soil Framework Directive is introduced and legally implemented in all member states of the European Union, a large number of Irish environmental soil/sediment samples can be analysed relatively quickly and inexpensively in Irish laboratories with standard GC-MS facilities. Because of the ambitious nature of a number of these initial goals, not all the specific goals of this project were reached. However, data obtained from this project has the potential for the development of biosensors and for the bioremediation of chlorinated organic compounds in the environment, and for the development of a relatively simple and inexpensive method for detecting chlorinated organic compounds in environmental samples.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Martina McGuinness
Institute of Technology Carlow
Environmental Research Scientist
Department of Science & Health, Kilkenny Road, Institute of Technology Carlow, Kilkenny Road Carlow Town, Ireland
Telephone: +353 (0)59-9175518
e-mail: Martina.McGuinness@itcarlow.ie

Dr. David Dowling
Insitute of Technology, Carlow (CIT)
Head of School of Science
School of Science, Institute of Technology Carlow, Kilkenny Road, Carlow Town, Ireland
Telephone: +353 59 9175507
e-mail: david.dowling@itcarlow.ie

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Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_72_McGuinness_PollutingChemicals_prn.pdf  (2.24 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_72_McGuinness_PollutingChemicals_web.pdf  (1.21 Mb)

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Author(s)McGuinness, M. Dowling, D.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationNovel Approaches for the Detection of Polluting Chemicals in the Environment
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=8162d118-f7f7-102e-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Unique Identifier8162d118-f7f7-102e-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2017-06-29

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McGuinness, M. Dowling, D.   "Novel Approaches for the Detection of Polluting Chemicals in the Environment". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=8162d118-f7f7-102e-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c (Last Accessed: 2017-06-29)

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=211
Resource KeywordsBacterial Detoxification Enzymes as Bioindicators and Biosensors of Environmental Pollution
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2007-FS-WRM-5-M5
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeEnvironmental Technologies
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Public-Open
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 2
Project Start Date Monday 1st January 2007 (01-01-2007)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st January 2007 (01-01-2007)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Wednesday 1st December 2010 (01-12-2010)
Published on SAFERTuesday 5th July 2011 (05-07-2011)
Date of Last EditTuesday 5th July 2011 at 02:53:13 (05-07-2011)
Datasets or Files Updated On Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 02:53:13 (05-07-2011)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
This work was a laboratory-based research fellowship. Therefore there is no geographical significance.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
The aim of this research project was to identify bacterial GSTs (known and novel) in environmental samples and, using molecular biological techniques, to study microbial diversity in these samples. Bacterial GSTs identified in soil contaminated with toxic chlorinated organic compounds could have the potential for bioremediation, and for development as bioindicators and biosensors of environmental pollutants, for example toxic chlorinated organic PCBs and pesticides. A specific bacterial GST, BphKLB400, was to be developed for use as a biosensor and for bioremediation. Two of four major areas in environmental health research defined by the EPA in Ireland as current research challenges, are: (i) persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in soil and water and (ii) emerging diseases, for example, due to increased use of the chlorinated organic pesticide DTT in developing countries to control human disease vectors, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria (EPA STRIVE Meeting, Kilkenny, May 2007). Reducing the levels of PCBs and toxic synthetic chlorinated organic pesticides in the environment would appear to be an issue of growing urgency as the effects of these chemicals on human health become understood more widely.
Supplementary Information
There are a number of recommendations relating to the work carried out in this research project. -- Development of an Assay for Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Chlorinated Organic Compounds in Environmental Soil/ Sediment --Development of a Specific Bacterial Glutathione Transferase, BphKLB400 (Wildtype and Mutant) for Bioremediation --Improved Access to National Soil Database Samples --It is recommended that the GCMS assay be developed further so that when the Soil Framework Directive is implemented legally in all EU member states, it will be possible to analyse a large number of Irish environmental soil/sediment samples relatively quickly and inexpensively in Irish laboratories with standard GC-MS facilities.
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