Sewage treatment may be an unglamorous job, but bacteria are happy to do it. Sewage plants rely on bacteria to remove environmental toxins from waste so that the processed water can be safely discharged into oceans and rivers. Now, a bacterium discovered by Princeton researchers in a New Jersey swamp may offer a more efficient method for treating toxins found in sewage, fertilizer runoff and other forms of water pollution. The bacterium, Acidimicrobiaceae bacterium A6, is capable of breaking down ammonium, a pollutant found in sewage and fertilizer runoff. Even more intriguing is that A6 can perform this chemical conversion in the absence of oxygen, an ability that could be useful for providing alternative methods to costly oxygen-dependent methods currently used in sewage treatment and other processes.
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