Spores survive high temperatures: bacteria
Spores of some bacteria may be able to survive high temperatures in part because their unfolded proteins are rotationally immobilized, preventing tangling during dormancy.
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"'What we have discovered is that the water in the spore is nearly as fluid as in regular bacteria, while the enzymes are largely immobile. We therefore think that spores' heat resistance and ability to shut down their cell machinery can be ascribed to the fact that certain critical enzymes do not function in the low water content in the spore core. But much more work is needed to figure out the details of the mechanism,' explains Bertil Halle…
"Another important observation crucial to understanding why spores can survive temperatures up to 150 degrees centigrade is that the proteins in the spore do not move freely, as in a water solution.
"'When the temperature rises, protein molecules unfold into long chains. Since the molecules in the spore core are immobilized, they don't get tangled up with each other, as they would in ordinary cells. When the temperature goes down, they fold up again, and no damage has been done to the cell,' explains Erik Sunde." (Viegas 2009)
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist
Application Ideas: Protecting organic materials (foods, medicines) from high temperatures.
Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Food, medicine, packaging
Department of Biophysical Chemistry, Lund University