A team of the Centre for Biological Sciences (CBS) at Central University of South Bihar (CUSB) has found two strains of bacteria that reduce the arsenic concentration in groundwater. The research titled ‘Possible bioremediation of arsenic toxicity by isolating indigenous bacteria from the middle Gangetic plain of Bihar-India’ was carried out by the CBS team led by assistant professor Nitish Kumar. It was funded by University Grants Commission (UGC) under the start-up grant and was carried out for three years at CUSB.
In middle Gangetic plain, such as the Ara-Buxar region, the concentration of arsenic is high in water (groundwater). This causes a significant health risk. Two strains of bacteria, namely AK1 (KY569423) and AK9 (KY569424) were identified to detoxify the arsenic contamination. Elaborating on the future prospects of the research, Kumar said there was another research going on at the university to see how the result of his research would be useful in carrying out detoxification of arsenic toxicity in drinking water.
The ongoing research will also see if the genes of the bacteria that carried out arsenic detoxification in groundwater can be cloned and transferred to plants. The plants would then detoxify themselves and become arsenic resistant. This, in turn, will help humans remain free from arsenic contamination due to consuming vegetables that had arsenic in them. The results so far have been quite encouraging. We are optimistic that findings will be very beneficial in reducing the hazard of arsenic found in abundant quantity in the water in areas situated on the banks of the Ganga.
Another team of researchers from SS Hospital and Research Centre, Kankarbagh, have found proof of gene expression abnormality due to arsenic toxicity. In another ongoing research being carried out at the hospital, they have found four strains of bacteria, which have been reported to detoxify arsenic and endosulfan (widely used pesticide).
“At present, we are working at preparing a dose or pellet (a small pill) out of the consortium of these four strains of bacteria. We will first conduct the preclinical trials on mice and monkeys and, then, conduct the trials on humans,” said Akhileshwari Nath, principal researcher of the project. Nath said in case of arsenic toxicity, it was found that arsenic deposition was primarily taking place in muscles, cells and blood.