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Biochemistry of microbial degradation

  • Colin Ratledge

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Philip Morgan, Robert J. Watkinson
    Pages 1-31
  3. Colin Ratledge
    Pages 89-141
  4. G. F. White, N. J. Russell
    Pages 143-177
  5. Thomas M. Wood, Vicenta Garcia-Campayo
    Pages 197-231
  6. Thomas W. Jeffries
    Pages 233-277
  7. Matur V. Ramesh, Badal C. Saha, Saroj P. Mathupala, S. Podkovyrov, J. Gregory Zeikus
    Pages 313-346
  8. Laetitia C. M. Commandeur, John R. Parsons
    Pages 423-458
  9. Gerhild Schwarz, Franz Lingens
    Pages 459-486
  10. Georg Fuchs, Magdy El Said Mohamed, Uwe Altenschmidt, Jürgen Koch, Achim Lack, Ruth Brackmann et al.
    Pages 513-553
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 571-590

About this book

Introduction

Life on the planet depends on microbial activity. The recycling of carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, oxygen, phosphate and all the other elements that constitute living matter are continuously in flux: microorganisms participate in key steps in these processes and without them life would cease within a few short years. The comparatively recent advent of man-made chemicals has now challenged the environment: where degradation does not occur, accumulation must perforce take place. Surprisingly though, even the most recalcitrant of molecules are gradually broken down and very few materials are truly impervious to microbial attack. Microorganisms, by their rapid growth rates, have the most rapid turn-over of their DNA of all living cells. Consequently they can evolve altered genes and therefore produce novel enzymes for handling "foreign" compounds - the xenobiotics - in a manner not seen with such effect in other organisms. Evolution, with the production of micro-organisms able to degrade molecules hitherto intractable to breakdown, is therefore a continuing event. Now, through the agency of genetic manipulation, it is possible to accelerate this process of natural evolution in a very directed manner. The time-scale before a new microorganism emerges that can utilize a recalcitrant molecule has now been considerably shortened by the application of well-understood genetic principles into microbiology. However, before these principles can be successfully used, it is essential that we understand the mechanism by which molecules are degraded, otherwise we shall not know where best to direct these efforts.

Keywords

bacteria bacterial degradation biochemistry enzymes metabolism microorganism microorganisms molecular biology pollution polymer

Editors and affiliations

  • Colin Ratledge
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Applied BiologyUniversity of HullHullUK

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