A team of University of Cincinnati researchers that spans three colleges and five departments will report their progress in addressing some of the nation's most troubling pollution problems during a special conference Feb. 24-26 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is sponsoring the conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Superfund Basic Research Program. The University of Cincinnati was one of the first universities selected to take part in the program and has received more than $10 million in funding over the last eight years.
"We've pooled all this expertise," said Professor John Loper, who oversees the entire UC project. "It's only the only national, university-based and peer-reviewed program that addresses this important need at this level."
The University of Cincinnati program consists of several projects, but focuses primarily on risk assessment and bioremediation of compounds that don't degrade very readily in the environment.
One of the success stories to be presented in Chapel Hill is the isolation and characterization of a strain of bacteria from the genus Sphingomonas which is capable of breaking down compounds known as "N-heterocyclics." Many compounds in that group cause mutations and can lead to cancer. Brian Kinkle, assistant professor of biological sciences, says Sphingomonas shows great promise for bioremediation work.
"It's an interesting genus of bacteria they keep finding in more and more polluted sites. We find it in groundwater and soil. Different strains seem to degrade a wide variety of compounds."
A second organism isolated and studied at UC belongs to the
genus Mycobacterium. This group includes the microbes which cause
leprosy and tuberculosis, but the strain used at UC is a common
soil bacteria which does not cause illness. What it can do is
chew up another group of chemicals which can cause cancer and
Contact: Chris Curran
University of Cincinnati