SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean biologists have discovered bacteria with outstanding capabilities to biodegrade endocrine-disrupting chemicals known to obstruct the excretion of hormones in the human body.
The Nakdonggang National Institute of Biological Resources announced on Monday that it has discovered bacteria that can biodegrade phthalate, an endocrine disruptor.
Newly named as novosphingobium fluvii, the microorganism was found in the Nakdong River near Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang Province last March.
It has been included in the novosphingobium genus with the name, fluvii, which indicates that it was found in the river.
Certain species within the novosphingobium genus have been known to biodegrade a variety of organic substances.
The newly discovered organism, according to the institute, was found to biodegrade various kinds of phthalates, including the dibutyl phthalate, an endocrine disruptor.
It showed outstanding performance of biodegrading phthalates at various concentration levels between 10 and 4,000 ppm.
While Rhodococcus, another bacteria also known to biodegrade phthalates, took 10 days to biodegrade half of 1,000 ppms of phthalates, the new bacteria spent only five days to biodegrade all of them.
Phthalates are used as common plasticizers that strengthen the flexibility of plastics and vinyl. Dibutyl phthalate is used in toys and containers for cosmetic goods in restricted amounts.
The institute will look into the possibility of developing eco-friendly methods to purify water that contains phthalates.
“It is meaningful that we found an eco-friendly resource to safely biodegrade endocrine disruptors and other toxic chemicals,” said Seo Min-hwan, head of the Nakdonggang National Institute of Biological Resources.
“We will continue to look for new organisms that will help purify water.”
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)