Congratulations to PhD candidate Lygie Esquirol on the publication of her work in PLoS One this week.
Our new paper describes the molecular characterisation of the enzyme biuret hydrolase (BiuH; Structure show) from the soil bacterium Rhizobium leguminasorum bv. viciae 3841.
This enzyme is part of a metabolic pathway that allows Rhizobium to access nutrients (nitrogen) from the man-made compound cyanuric acid. Cyanuric acid is used in a large number of applications, including the manufacture of drugs, plastics, herbicides and disinfectants. It is commonly found in the environment as a breakdown product herbicides (e.g., atrazine) and plastics (e.g., melamine).
The enzyme described in Lygie’s paper may have applications in environmental bioremediation and detecting, quantifying and degrading biuret in food, feed and fertilizer.
The work also helps us to understand how these types of pollutants are recycled by bacteria in the environment and how bacteria respond to new metabolic cues through the evolution of new enzymes and catabolic pathways.