Eye on Potatoes: Enzyme in potato soil responsible for decomposing chloroacrylate
for decomposing chloroacrylate
March 27, 2008 By Fruit & Vegetable
An enzyme inside a bacterium that
grows in the soil of potato fields can – in a split second – break down
residues of a common powerful pesticide used for killing worms on
potatoes, researchers have found.
An enzyme inside a bacterium that grows in the soil of potato fields can – in a split second – break down residues of a common powerful pesticide used for killing worms on potatoes, researchers have found.
This finding may be expensive for farmers but lucky for the environment since scientists have now discovered that if the particular enzyme found in the bacteria Pseudomonas pavonaceae weren’t there, it would take 10,000 years for just half of the widely used pesticide chloroacrylate to decompose. And the chemical would remain in the soil of the potato fields where it is now used, posing a possible threat to human and animal health.
The half-life of the pesticide, commonly known as Shell D-D and Telone II, is longer, by several orders of magnitude, than the half-lives of other known environmental pollutants in water, according to the researchers, adding that the half-lives of atrazine, aziridine, paraoxon and 1, 2-dichloroethane are five months, 52 hours, 13 months and 72 years, respectively.
In contrast, the half-life of chloroacrylate – 10,000 years – matches the half-life of plutonium-239, the isotope produced in nuclear power plants.
Pseudomonas pavonaceae have evolved in the soil in which 1, 3-dichloropropene is used and can grow on it as their only source of carbon and energy, the scientists said. The enzyme responsible for degrading the pesticide may have evolved since the chemical’s first use on potato fields in 1946.
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