Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020
News Every Day |

How Yellowstone Extremophile Bacteria Helped With Covid-19 Testing

When microbiologist Thomas Brock first stumbled upon a hardy, heat-resistant bacteria in the Lower Geyser Basin area in Yellowstone National Park in 1966, he made the groundbreaking discovery that life could exist at much higher temperatures than previously thought. At the time, scientists believed that 73C was the hottest temperature a living organism could withstand, and that even heat-loving or thermophile bacteria preferred a cooler environment—about 55C. But much to the scientists’ surprise, Thermus aquaticus, as the new bacteria was eventually named, could survive in near-boiling water. Such organisms are known as extremophiles for their ability to thrive in extreme environmental conditions.

As Brock and his students began studying the resilient creatures, they made more interesting findings. T. aquaticus lived in other thermal springs around the world. It also thrived in manmade heated aquatic realms such as the hot water system of a building on the Indiana University campus where Brock worked. During part of its lifecycle, Brock’s student Hudson Freeze discovered, the bacteria produced a particular enzyme that also tolerated high temperatures and remained intact in boiling water. They named the heat-resistant enzyme molecule Taq DNA polymerase.

Brock and his students were intrigued by the novel organism and its features, but the real significance of their research was yet to come. They had discovered something that would come to revolutionize medical science. About two decades later, T. aquaticus’ heat-resistant enzyme proved key to developing the Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR method— molecular reactions necessary for identifying the presence of an organism’s DNA or RNA in a small sample. It is also used in DNA sequencing, genetic engineering and paternity testing. It works by replicating the original DNA string over and over—or “amplifying” it to make the detection possible.

The T. aquaticus rose to fame when in the early 1980s, biochemist Kary B. Mullis came up with a way of rapidly copying strings of DNA. His original Eureka moment happened when he was driving along a moonlit mountain road into northern California’s redwood country on a Friday night. “U.S. 101 was undemanding,” he later wrote. “I liked night driving; every weekend I went north to my cabin and sat still for three hours in the car, my hands occupied, my mind free.” That Friday night his free mind was imagining a DNA experiment.

Thermus aquaticus
Thermus aquaticus via Wikimedia Commons

As he thought of a series of reactions that would replicate the original DNA string over and over—or “amplify” it to make its detection possible—he stopped the car at a spot overlooking Anderson Valley, pulled a pencil and paper from his glove compartment and started jotting down his calculations. It looked like the idea could work.

Indeed, the method he came up with that night did work, but there was a snag. The reactions necessary for the DNA replication to happen required the reagents to undergo a series of heating and cooling. However, the high temperatures damaged the enzyme involved in copying—essentially cooked it—complicating and slowing down the process. “The polymerase we had originally used was easily destroyed by heat; consequently, more had to be added during each cycle of the reaction,” Mullis wrote. He needed a heat-resistant molecule so the reaction could just continue without human interjection. The enzyme from the thermophilic bacteria dwelling in the Yellowstone hot springs solved that problem. “The DNA polymerase of Thermus aquaticus, however, is stable and active at high temperatures, which means that it only needs to be added at the beginning of the reaction.”

The T. aquaticus’s enzyme became a hot commodity in scientific circles. Mullis’s PCR technique was patented by Cetus Corporation and the patent rights were later sold to the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche for $300 million. In 1989, Science magazine named Taq DNA polymerase the “Molecule of the Year.” Four years later, Mullis was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The Taq PCR became a workhorse of scientific research and diagnostics. It has been used in DNA sequencing, ancient DNA analysis, gene expression analysis, gene cloning, and DNA fingerprinting. (In fact, Mullis was called upon as an expert witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.) It was also used in the Human Genome Project. Today, it is used to test patients, surfaces and objects for the presence of various infectious agents, including SARS-CoV-2. From a scientific curiosity to key component in modern-day biotech, the Yellowstone hot springs’ extremophile dweller has made a remarkable journey, helping save lives along the way.


Support JSTOR Daily! Join our new membership program on Patreon today.

The post How Yellowstone Extremophile Bacteria Helped With Covid-19 Testing appeared first on JSTOR Daily.




Read also

Fellow Nigerians, jawjaw is better than warwar

Megan Barton Hanson posts nude snap as she downs wine in a tin while relaxing in a rose petal bath

Cyber Monday deals are already happening at Macy's, including big discounts on Instant Pots, Shark vacuums, Urban Decay palettes, and Fitbits



News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro




Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here