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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
Contact Material World
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 13 October
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 13 October 2005
The hunter Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus
The hunter Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus

Audience Debates - click here for tickets.
Explore The Material World with the Open University Predatory Bacteria - Bdellovibrio
 
Bdellovibrio is a predatory bacterium which invades other species of bacteria as part of its life cycle - reproducing inside them before bursting out of their spent shells.

Dr Liz Sockett from the Institute of Genetics at the University of Nottingham will be in the studio to talk about her ongoing research.

The ability of Bdellovibrio to invade other bacterial cells whilst remaining harmless to human cells means it offers a range of therapeutic applications.

Bdellovibrio's behaviour may also provide an explanation of a more fundamental biological question - How did complex cells arise?

Lynn Margulis Professor of Evolutionary Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts noticed that cell organelles looked like bacteria and has developed the idea that complex cells may have formed from merged simpler cells such as bacteria.
 
Phosphate recycling
   
In the past, phosphorus was recycled in fertiliser, when animal manure and human wastes were spread on farm land.

But now the main source is non-renewable phosphate rock - which will run out within the next 100 years. Industry and scientists are now developing methods of recycling phosphate from sewage. 

Quentin talks to Eva Valsami-Jones, reader in mineralogy at the Natural History Museum who also runs the Phosphate recycling group and Andy Johnson from Terra-Ecosystems, Thames Water's project to create a commercially viable phosphate product from sewage.

High phosphate levels in water cause algal bloom, but extracting the phosphates involves costly and laborious chemistry.

New methods are being developed using bacteria which concentrate Phosphates in their bodies.

These can then be used in fertiliser.
 
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