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Posted Mon Apr 19 2010: from
Modified plant clears up deadly cyanobacteria water toxin
A team at St George's Medical School, part of the UK-based University of London, has modified tobacco plants to secrete antibodies from the roots that then bind to microcystin-LR -- the most common cyanobacteria toxin in water -- rendering it harmless. "A toxin that is bound to antibodies should be easier to remove from the environment and also is likely to be less harmful," said Pascal Drake, a biotechnology researcher at St George's Centre for Infection. The antibodies could also be used in simple and cheap tests to see if toxins are present in water supplies, he said. Tobacco plants, grown hydroponically in the lab, were chosen for the first phase of this research, reported last month (March) in The FASEB Journal, because "they are easy to work with and genetically engineer", said Drake. The next step will be to try and modify aquatic plants, which will be more suitable for large-scale treatment of water. Drake anticipated that this "wouldn't be too problematic".
[Read more stories about: GMOs, toxic water, technical cleverness, bioremediation]

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