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Microbes at Work Cleaning Environment

A. Microbes at Work Cleaning Up the Environment

Narrator: This is Science Today. Some bacteria have been found to actually improve water quality by protecting themselves from potentially toxic nanoparticles in their own environment. A team of University of California researchers found that bacteria from an abandoned mine in Wisconsin excrete microbial proteins that cause metal nanoparticles to accumulate. Physicist Peter Weber of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory explains.

Weber: It turns out that they're taking sulfate from the water and they're reducing it and making zinc sulfide particles. And so they're cleaning up the water by removing that sulfate from the water and at the same time, they're taking out the heavy metals that are coming from the mine.

Narrator: This research is being driven by the U.S. Department of Energy's need to develop new technologies for cleaning up water.

Weber: So the interest is to go in there and see what's happening naturally and how that can be harnessed to clean up the environment.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.