Frank Loeffler, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Microbiology, was featured in Science-Omega for his research involving nitrous oxide. Loeffler and his international team has discovered that the range of microorganisms which combat the greenhouse gas is broader than expected.
The environment has a more formidable opponent than carbon dioxide. Another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, is 300 times more potent and also destroys the ozone layer each time it is released into the atmosphere. Luckily, nature has a larger army than previously thought combating this greenhouse gas—according to a study by Frank Loeffler, Governor’s Chair for Microbiology, and his colleagues.
Mercury pollution is a persistent problem in the environment. Human activity has led to increasingly large accumulations of the toxic chemical, especially in waterways, where fish and shellfish tend to act as sponges for the heavy metal. It’s that persistent and toxic nature that has flummoxed scientists for years in the quest to find ways to mitigate the dangers posed by the buildup of mercury in its most toxic form, methylmercury. A new discovery by scientists at UT Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, has shed new light on one of nature’s best mercury fighters: bacteria.