Methanotrophic bacteria can have a major role to play in cleaning up the environment. They can both gobble heavy metals in the environment and digest a notorious greenhouse gas. However, before researchers further delve into the potential applications of methanotrophic bacteria, they need to take a closer look at its underlying physiological processes.
In this direction, Amy C. Rosenzweig of Northwestern University has uncovered two proteins named MbnB and MbnC. They have been never studied before and are in part responsible for the inner workings of the bacteria.
As per Rosenzweig, their findings go far beyond the bacteria in question. This is because the two proteins also exist in numerous other kinds of bacteria, including pathogens found inside humans.
The findings were published recently in the journal Science.
Methanotrophic Bacteria Can Absorb Copper from Environment
Methanotrophic bacteria, also known as “methanotrophs,” absorb copper present in the environment to incorporate them into the molecular machinery which metabolizes methane to transform it into methanol for food.
To extract the copper, methanotrophs typically give out peptide which is modified chemically. The peptide is named methanobactin and it binds tightly to copper ions to draw them inside the cell. So far, the cellular process which facilitates the formation of methanobactin, has been shrouded in mystery.
The two newly uncovered proteins called MbnB and MbnC in part help in production of methanobactin. These two proteins combined build an iron-containing enzyme complex which transforms into an amino acid. The chemistry brings about methanobactin that incorporates copper into the cell.