Understanding a Toxic Necessity
BioTechnology Institute Research by Janelle Bazurto
Reed Grumann (writer)
Image courtesy of Janelle Buzurto. Timecourse of Methylobacterium chemotaxing toward a capillary tube that has a formaldehyde plug in it. (Zero and five minutes). Cells seen faintly in the background at zero minutes begin to move toward the plug by the five minute point, forming a halo around the end of the tube.
Jannelle Bazurto, assistant professor of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota, is pursuing a better understanding of formaldehyde, a chemical that is carcinogenic, toxic, and produced by all living things.
If you dissected a pig in high school biology, you might remember a sharp, acrid smell permeating the classroom and the teacher’s warning about a carcinogenic chemical called formaldehyde. Though often labeled a killer chemical, every organism on Earth, including humans, produces small amounts of formaldehyde. In very small quantities, it’s manageable. Produce or consume too much, and formaldehyde will kill otherwise healthy cells by attacking critical proteins and DNA. Read more.