Associate Professor Kaneyoshi Yamamoto et al., Course of Frontier Bioscience, Department of Frontier Bioscience, Faculty of Bioscience and Applied Chemistry, succeeded in collecting and accumulating highly-concentrated rare metal by using colon bacilli.

January 31, 2014

Colon bacillus observed with an atomic force microscope
Colon bacillus observed with an atomic force microscope

A study group of Associate Professor Kaneyoshi Yamamoto et al., Department of Frontier Bioscience, Faculty of Bioscience and Applied Chemistry, succeeded in collecting and accumulating a highly-concentrated rare metal by using colon bacilli. Colon bacilli can easily bind to metals and carry them. Making use of this property of colon bacilli, the study group developed a system where it made colon bacilli take in a large amount of a specific rare metal by using gene recombination technology, and then destroyed them to collect only the rare metal. Associate Professor Yamamoto says that if an optimized strain of colon bacilli is used, there is a possibility that the capacity of collecting and accumulating rare metals can increase by up to approximately 1,000 times the normal level.

Japan depends on imports for most of the rare metals used in the country, due to the uneven distribution of production areas and environmental destruction issues associated with their collection. However, this system can realize the collection and accumulation of rare metals, such as manganese and molybdenum, that are contained in seawater in minute amounts. With minimal adverse impacts on the environment, the system is also expected to lead to the creation of new industries.

Associate Professor Kaneyoshi Yamamoto
Associate Professor Kaneyoshi Yamamoto

Associate Professor Yamamoto is involved in the study of genome biology at Hosei University. He talks about development of the system as follows.

“As one of my research subjects, I have conducted research on the responsiveness of metals, which are deeply involved in the human body, by using colon bacilli. However, initially I never thought that it would lead to the development of a rare metal. The use of colon bacilli is effective because seawater, an abundant water resource in Japan, can be used. In addition, the amount of the collected rare metal is expected to greatly increase by using the inherent fermentation that colon bacilli, a type of microorganism, originally have, as long as a suitable environment is created.”

Associate Professor Yamamoto concurrently engages in research on countermeasures against contaminated water and soil contamination, including chemical materials that have drawn attention after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident, by making use of the metal homeostasis of colon bacilli.

“Although colon bacilli have been subjected to genetic research for years, there still remain many areas that have not been clarified. In the Faculty of Bioscience and Applied Chemistry at Hosei University, students can fully undertake applied basic research in these areas, which contributed to our research this time.
Making use of our curriculum where students can belong to individual research laboratories from their second year, together with students I would like to devote myself to research in order to contribute to the global development of Hosei University,” said Associate Professor Yamamoto.

PAGE TOP