Benzyl succinate synthase

Last week we talked about the anaerobic biodegradation of benzene and described a possible way in which this process can occur. Today we want to talk about another possibility for that.

BssA, namely benzyl succinate synthase, is an enzyme capable of initiating the breakdown of both benzene and toluene, two compounds that can be toxic to animals and humans.

Toluene is produced during the refining of crude oil and it is used in various industrial processes, including the production of paints, adhesives, and coatings. It can be found in products such as glues, nail polish, and cigarette smoke. Toluene can also come from natural sources, such as plants or bacteria, but the amounts produced from such processes are not harmful.

Toluene is easier than benzene to degrade, especially in aerobic (with oxygen) environments. In anaerobic (without oxygen) environments, the degradation is slower and more difficult, but we found a way.

BssA, benzyl succinate synthatse, is an enzyme that works under anaerobic conditions for the initiation of toluene degradation. BssA can also serve for benzene degradation, as this process can also take place via formation of Toluene. By addition of a fumarate molecule to the toluene, the benzylsuccinate is formed. This molecule can enter several degradation pathways naturally occurring in the cell, like the Tricarboxylic acid degradation which is normally used for energy harvesting by cells.

At Orvion, we investigate for the presence of bssA gene in toluene and benzene contaminated environments to have an indication of the possibility and extent of biodegradation, and draw bioremediation plans accordingly.

Want to know more about ways of degrading benzene and other toxic compounds?

Follow us on Linkedin.

Other themes