Nov 25, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Scientists Are Surprised To Find Bacteria In Marine Sponge Produces Toxic Fire Retardant Compound

May 13, 2017 06:05 AM EDT

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Scientists have found that marine sponges collected in Guam to be very intriguing. Following further laboratory analysis, scientists discovered that the bacteria in marine sponge produce a toxic compound similar to man-made fire retardant, PDBE.

The scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the University of California at San Diego uses the genome mining and DNA sequencing to study the marine sponges collected in Guam. From their analysis, the scientist found that the marine sponges collected in Guam are the hosts of some microorganisms. The bacteria in marine sponge produce a toxic compound that closely identical to the human-made fire retardant.

Fire retardant is a substance that able to raise the burn temperature and reduced the flammability. Its application into the foam, textile and electronics compound will reduce the risk of fire, due to its ability to delay combustion by increasing the burn temperature. PDBE, or Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, is a powerful fire retardant which prevents the flame from appearing in the high temperature. It is incredible to find the bacteria in the marine sponge to be able to produce such brominated hydrocarbon compounds.

Brominated hydrocarbon is one of the powerful chemical compounds, consist of a central biphenyl structure and surrounded by bromine atoms. Scientists at the Scripps first studied the sponge in the 1970's before its researchers continue the investigation of the bacteria in the marine sponge. The pioneer of this research from nearly 50 years ago is a chemist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, John Faulkner, who diligently study the natural products from the sea.

The current researchers that continue Faulkner's research have also published their research paper in the May 2017 issue of journal Nature Chemical Biology, Volume 13/5. The co-first authors of the papers are Vinayak Agarwal and Jessica Blanton. While the genome sequencing and DNA mining of the bacteria in the marine sponge are analyzed by the senior author, Professor Bradley Moore who work for two research institutes at the UC San Diego, the Scripps Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

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