Friday, September 14, 2012

Pseudomonas putida

Pseudomonas putida was the first patented organism in the world. A researcher at General Electric, Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty, genetically engineered a strain of Pseudomonas putida to enhance its ability to biodegrade crude oil. His patent application was turned down because the bacterium was a living thing, which is excluded from patent protection. Chakrabarty appealed his case, which eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980. In a 5–4 ruling it was decided that the genetic engineering qualified as "manufacturing" and "a product of human ingenuity" and thus qualified for patent.[1]

In addition to degrading benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene (major components of gasoline), Pseudomonas putida also breaks down styrene, which means it may someday be used for biodegradation of polystyrene (more commonly known by its trademark, Styrofoam).[2] Besides being useful for bioremediation, Pseudomonas putida is symbiotic with some plants, encouraging their growth and protecting them from pathogenic bacteria.[3] It is also a major food source for springtails.[4] Pseudomonas putida is generally nonpathogenic, but is closely related to the important human pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, making it a useful model for studying that bacterium.[5]


[1] See Diamond v. Chakrabarty.

[2] See putida. See also

[3] See putida#Description and significance.

[4] Haubert, D., et al. (2006) "Trophic shift of stable isotopes and fatty acids in Collembola on bacterial diets." Soil Biol Biochem 38 (7): 2004–2007. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2005.11.031.

[5] See putida#Pathology.

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