Researchers from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology have identified how bacteria can adapt to toxic metals released from hydrothermal vents. The study focused on Nitratiruptor sp. SB155-2, a species of bacteria isolated from vents in the Okinawa Trough. The researchers found that bacteria use transporter proteins to pump the toxic metals out, but also respond differently to two different metals, cadmium and copper, commonly found in these vents. The response to copper was more sophisticated, involving more genes, while bacteria exposed to cadmium were more likely to form flagella and move to a better environment in response to chemotaxis. The research may lead to new solutions for cleaning up toxic metals.
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