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Screening and Functional Analyses of Photoreceptors <br/>in Extremophilic Microbial Communities

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New DNA-repair enzymes identified

Bacteria and other microorganisms that grow in harsh environmental conditions are a rich source of new enzymes for biotechnological applications. A recent research project has discovered a new DNA-repairing enzyme found in one such bacterium.

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These microorganisms, referred to as extremophiles, are found in extreme conditions such as high desiccation, high ultraviolet (UV) exposure and heavy metal contaminations. They have in the past provided many useful enzymes for various applications. An EU-funded project called 'Screening and functional analyses of photoreceptors in extremophilic microbial communities' (EXTREMOPHIL) was established to investigate extremophiles from one particular environment: the high-altitude Andean lakes. The area is home to extremophiles subjected to high levels of UV light, high salt and extreme pH. Researchers started their investigation by classifying all microorganisms found in the lakes using genomic sequencing. One organism, Acinetobacter Ver3, was chosen for further study due to its high survival rates. The EXTREMOPHIL project successfully identified two enzymes within the organism that can repair DNA. Both function best under high UV light conditions and both showed good potential for use in biotechnological applications. In the medical industry for instance, enzymes like these would be extremely valuable as light-driven, DNA-repair enzymes.

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