Microbial α-L-Rhamnosidase: an important enzyme for the pharmaceutical and food industries

Author: Vinita Yadav, Ph.D.

Editors: Callie Corsa, Zena Lapp, and Noah Steinfeld

 

Molds or fungi are generally known for their pathogenic properties, but they are also used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. We can find several examples of uses in our daily lives including yeast used in brewing and baking, Aspergillus species used in making Soy sauce, and Penicillium species used in cheese industries. Penicillium species also make antibiotics like Penicillin.

During my thesis, my project was to search for fungi which produce alpha-L-Rhamnosidase, an enzyme that cuts the terminal L-rhamnose from several glycosylated compounds: compounds that have sugar attached. L-rhamnose is sweet in taste but not found in nature in its free form. It is always attached to several other biomolecules from lipid/fat molecules to proteins to other metabolites like flavonoids, steroids, or terpenoids (Figure 1).

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A Window to Ancient Earth Lies at the Bottom of Lake Huron

Author: Becca Dzombak

Edited by: Zuleirys Santana-Rodriguez, Emily Glass, and Whit Froehlich

 

In Lake Huron, off the coast of Michigan, lies a window to an ancient world. An underwater sinkhole holds water that’s chemically more similar to the ocean than to the rest of the Great Lakes. Microorganisms (microbes) thought to be very similar to those that thrived on Earth billions of years ago live at the bottom, moving around to chase the light and their preferred water chemistry. Geobiologists and biogeochemists are fascinated by this spot, called Middle Island Sinkhole, and the opportunity it presents to understand how ancient lakes may have supported oxygen-generating microbial communities, contributing to the rise of oxygen in our atmosphere. Using environments like Middle Island Sinkhole can help us understand the conditions in which life evolved on Earth (maybe even giving us hints for what to look for in our search for extraterrestrial life) and predict how carbon cycling in lakes might respond under climate change.

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