October 11, 2012 4:35 p.m.
UCI biochemists have cracked a tough riddle in record time, according to recent articles in the journal Science
. They've determined the origin of a carbide ion in nitrogenase, the only known biological catalyst capable of converting dinitrogen into ammonia and carbon monoxide into
hydrocarbons. The discovery by Markus Ribbe, professor of molecular biology & biochemistry, his co-principal investigator Yilin Hu, and co-workers Jared Wiig and Chi Chung Lee could be useful for such industrial applications as ammonia or hydrocarbon production. "We are getting close to a complete understanding of how the remarkably complex active site of this enzyme is synthesized in the bacterial cell," Ribbe said. The work, supported by a National Institutes of Health grant, was featured in the Sept. 28 issue of Science
. Another article in the same issue praised the team for making the notable finding in less than a year.
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Ribbe, Research, Hydrocarbons, Discoveries, Environment & Energy, Science & Technology, Alumni, Students, Faculty, Biological Sciences