Identification and testing of novel enzymes for the degredation of endocrine disrupting micropollutants

by Lucy Eland

16:00 (40 min) in NUBS 2.14

Wastewater treatment plants have traditionally been designed with the removal of organics and nutrients from water in mind. However in recent years scientists have highlighted the potentially damaging effects of micropollutants on the environment. This includes many pharmaceutical and agricultural products. Of particular interest are the natural and synthetic hormones, particularly estrogens, which have been shown to have endocrine disrupting effects of aquatic life in receiving waters downstream of wastewater treatment plants. The NUFEB project (Newcastle university frontiers in engineering biology) syn bio team and the Challenging engineering project team (School of Engineering) have been working towards better defining the estrogen degradation pathway used by bacteria in wastewater treatment plants. Our approach has included literature searching, building up a culture collection of putative estrogen degraders, genome sequencing, bioinformatics analysis and chemoinformatics, protein overexpression and refining a method for detecting estrogen degradation and its degradation products. In the seminar I will give an overview of the work the team has done so far and speak briefly on the trials and tribulations of working with a micropollutant that is found at very low concentrations in the environment, and is not readily soluble in water.