• Helicobacter pylori vacA genotype is a predominant determinant of immune response to Helicobacter pylori CagA.

      Link, Alexander; Langner, Cosima; Schirrmeister, Wiebke; Habendorf, Wiebke; Weigt, Jochen; Venerito, Marino; Tammer, Ina; Schlüter, Dirk; Schlaermann, Philipp; Meyer, Thomas F; et al. (2017-07-14)
      To evaluate the frequency of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) CagA antibodies in H. pylori infected subjects and to identify potential histopathological and bacterial factors related to H. pylori CagA-immune response.
    • Heparin: role in protein purification and substitution with animal-component free material.

      Bolten, Svenja Nicolin; Rinas, Ursula; Scheper, Thomas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2018-10-01)
      Heparin is a highly sulfated polysaccharide which belongs to the family of glycosaminoglycans. It is involved in various important biological activities. The major biological purpose is the inhibition of the coagulation cascade to maintain the blood flow in the vasculature. These properties are employed in several therapeutic drugs. Heparin's activities are associated with its interaction to various proteins. To date, the structural heparin-protein interactions are not completely understood. This review gives a general overview of specific patterns and functional groups which are involved in the heparin-protein binding. An understanding of the heparin-protein interactions at the molecular level is not only advantageous in the therapeutic application but also in biotechnological application of heparin for downstreaming. This review focuses on the heparin affinity chromatography. Diverse recombinant proteins can be successfully purified by this method. While effective, it is disadvantageous that heparin is an animal-derived material. Animal-based components carry the risk of contamination. Therefore, they are liable to strict quality controls and the validation of effective good manufacturing practice (GMP) implementation. Hence, adequate alternatives to animal-derived components are needed. This review examines strategies to avoid these disadvantages. Thereby, alternatives for the provision of heparin such as chemical synthesized heparin, chemoenzymatic heparin, and bioengineered heparin are discussed. Moreover, the usage of other chromatographic systems mimetic the heparin effect is reviewed.
    • Hepatitis D virus in Africa: several unmet needs.

      Manns, Michael P; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10)
    • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)-Specific T Cell Receptor Cross-Recognition: Implications for Immunotherapy.

      Soon, Chai Fen; Zhang, Shihong; Suneetha, Pothakamuri Venkata; Antunes, Dinler Amaral; Manns, Michael Peter; Raha, Solaiman; Schultze-Florey, Christian; Prinz, Immo; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Sällberg Chen, Margaret; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      T cell immunotherapy is a concept developed for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, based on cytotoxic T lymphocytes to target tumor- or pathogen-specific antigens. Antigen-specificity of the T cell receptors (TCRs) is an important selection criterion in the developmental design of immunotherapy. However, off-target specificity is a possible autoimmunity concern if the engineered antigen-specific T cells are cross-reacting to self-peptides in-vivo. In our recent work, we identified several hepatitis E virus (HEV)-specific TCRs as potential candidates to be developed into T cell therapy to treat chronic hepatitis E. One of the identified TCRs, targeting a HLA-A2-restricted epitope at the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (HEV-1527: LLWNTVWNM), possessed a unique multiple glycine motif in the TCR-β CDR3, which might be a factor inducing cross-reactivity. The aim of our study was to explore if this TCR could cross-recognize self-peptides to underlay autoimmunity. Indeed, we found that this HEV-1527-specific TCR could also cross-recognize an apoptosis-related epitope, Nonmuscle Myosin Heavy Chain 9 (MYH9-478: QLFNHTMFI). While this TCR had dual specificities to both viral epitope and a self-antigen by double Dextramer binding, it was selectively functional against HEV-1527 but not activated against MYH9-478. The consecutive glycine motif in β chain may be the reason promoting TCR binding promiscuity to recognize a secondary target, thereby facilitating cross-recognition. In conclusion, candidate TCRs for immunotherapy development should be screened for autoimmune potential, especially when the TCRs exhibit unique sequence pattern.
    • Hepatocyte-specific suppression of microRNA-221-3p mitigates liver fibrosis.

      Tsay, Hsin-Chieh; Yuan, Qinggong; Balakrishnan, Asha; Kaiser, Marina; Möbus, Selina; Kozdrowska, Emilia; Farid, Marwa; Tegtmeyer, Pia-Katharina; Borst, Katharina; Vondran, Florian W R; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-12-22)
      Fibrosis, a cardinal feature of a dysfunctional liver, significantly contributes to the ever-increasing mortality due to end-stage chronic liver diseases. The crosstalk between hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) plays a key role in the progression of fibrosis. Although ample efforts have been devoted to elucidate the functions of HSCs during liver fibrosis, the regulatory functions of hepatocytes remain elusive. Using an unbiased functional microRNA (miRNA) screening, we investigated the ability of hepatocytes to regulate fibrosis by fine-tuning gene expression via miRNA modulation. The in vivo functional analyses were performed by inhibiting miRNA in hepatocytes using adeno-associated virus in carbon-tetrachloride- and 3,5-di-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine-induced liver fibrosis. Blocking miRNA-221-3p function in hepatocytes during chronic liver injury facilitated recovery of the liver and faster resolution of the deposited extracellular matrix. Furthermore, we demonstrate that reduced secretion of C-C motif chemokine ligand 2, as a result of post-transcriptional regulation of GNAI2 (G protein alpha inhibiting activity polypeptide 2) by miRNA-221-3p, mitigates liver fibrosis. Collectively, miRNA modulation in hepatocytes, an easy-to-target cell type in the liver, may serve as a potential therapeutic approach for liver fibrosis.
    • High affinity peptide inhibitors of the hepatitis C virus NS3-4A protease refractory to common resistant mutants.

      Kügler, Jonas; Schmelz, Stefan; Gentzsch, Juliane; Haid, Sibylle; Pollmann, Erik; van den Heuvel, Joop; Franke, Raimo; Pietschmann, Thomas; Heinz, Dirk W; Collins, John; et al. (2012-11-09)
      Hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3-4A protease is essential for viral replication. All current small molecular weight drugs against NS3-4A are substrate peptidomimetics that have a similar binding and resistance profile. We developed inhibitory peptides (IPs) capping the active site and binding via a novel "tyrosine" finger at an alternative NS3-4A site that is of particular interest for further HCV drug development. The peptides are not cleaved due to a combination of geometrical constraints and impairment of the oxyanion hole function. Selection and optimization through combinatorial phagemid display, protein crystallography, and further modifications resulted in a 32-amino acid peptide with a K(i) of 0.53 nm. Inhibition of viral replication in cell culture was demonstrated by fusion to a cell-penetrating peptide. Negligible susceptibility to known (A156V and R155K) resistance mutations of the NS3-4A protease was observed. This work shows for the first time that antiviral peptides can target an intracellular site and reveals a novel druggable site on the HCV protease.
    • Homologous recombination mediates stable Fah gene integration and phenotypic correction in tyrosinaemia mouse-model.

      Junge, Norman; Yuan, Qinggong; Vu, Thu Huong; Krooss, Simon; Bednarski, Christien; Balakrishnan, Asha; Cathomen, Toni; Manns, Michael P; Baumann, Ulrich; Sharma, Amar Deep; et al. (2018-02-27)
      To stably correct tyrosinaemia in proliferating livers of fumarylacetoacetate-hydrolase knockout (Fah-/-)mice by homologous-recombination-mediated targeted addition of theFahgene.
    • Human Anti-Lipopolysaccharid (LPS) antibodies against Legionella with high species specificity.

      Kuhn, Philipp; Thiem, Stefanie; Steinert, Michael; Purvis, Duncan; Lugmayr, Veronika; Treutlein, Ulrich; Plobner, Lutz; Leiser, Robert-Matthias; Hust, Michael; Dübel, Stefan; et al. (2017-07-19)
      Legionella are Gram-negative bacteria that are ubiquitously present in natural and man-made water reservoirs. When humans inhale aerosolized water contaminated with Legionella, alveolar macrophages can be infected, which may lead to a life-threatening pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease. Due to the universal distribution of Legionella in water and their potential threat to human health, the Legionella concentration in water for human use must be strictly monitored, which is difficult since the standard detection still relies on lengthy cultivation and analysis of bacterial morphology. In this study, an antibody against L. pneumophila has been generated from the naïve human HAL antibody libraries by phage-display for the first time. The panning was performed on whole bacterial cells in order to select antibodies that bind specifically to the cell surface of untreated Legionella. The bacterial cell wall component lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was identified as the target structure. Specific binding to the important pathogenic L. pneumophila strains Corby, Philadelphia-1 and Knoxville was observed, while no binding was detected to seven members of the families Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonadaceae or Clostridiaceae. Production of this antibody in the recombinant scFv-Fc format using either a murine or a human Fc part allowed the set-up of a sandwich-ELISA for detection of Legionella cells. The scFv-Fc construct proved to be very stable, even when stored for several weeks at elevated temperatures. A sensitivity limit of 4,000 cells was achieved. The scFv-Fc antibody pair was integrated on a biosensor, demonstrating the specific and fast detection of L. pneumophila on a portable device. With this system, 10,000 Legionella cells were detected within 35 min. Combined with a water filtration/concentration system, this antibody may be developed into a promising reagent for rapid on-site Legionella monitoring.
    • Identification of a Predominantly Interferon-λ-Induced Transcriptional Profile in Murine Intestinal Epithelial Cells.

      Selvakumar, Tharini A; Bhushal, Sudeep; Kalinke, Ulrich; Wirth, Dagmar; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Hornef, Mathias W; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-01)
      Type I (α and β) and type III (λ) interferons (IFNs) induce the expression of a large set of antiviral effector molecules
    • Identification of Burkholderia cepacia complex pathogens by rapid-cycle PCR with fluorescent hybridization probes.

      Vonberg, Ralf-Peter; Häussler, Susanne; Vandamme, Peter; Steinmetz, Ivo (2006-06-01)
      Members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex are important bacterial pathogens in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The B. cepacia complex currently consists of nine genetic subgroups (genomovars) of different epidemiological relevance and possibly of different pathogenic potential in humans. In this study, a new approach was developed for the rapid identification of B. cepacia genomovar I, Burkholderia multivorans (genomovar II), Burkholderia cenocepacia (lineage III-A and III-B), Burkholderia stabilis (genomovar IV) and Burkholderia vietnamiensis (genomovar V), which cause the large majority of infections in CF patients. The method was based on the detection of differences in the recA gene sequence by using rapid-cycle PCR and genomovar-specific fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes. The genomovar status of all 39 B. cepacia complex strains tested (genomovars I-V) was identified by melting-curve analysis. Each FRET probe produced a specific fluorescence signal only with the respective genomovar, and not with other B. cepacia complex strains and Burkholderia spp. The identification system was easy to handle and revealed B. cepacia complex genomovar I-V status from culture isolates within about 1 h.
    • Identification of oxylipins with antifungal activity by LC-MS/MS from the supernatant of Pseudomonas 42A2.

      Martin-Arjol, I; Bassas-Galia, M; Bermudo, E; Garcia, F; Manresa, A; Laboratori de Microbiologia, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de Barcelona, Joan XXIII s/n, Barcelona, Spain. (2010-05)
      In microorganisms hydroxy fatty acids are produced from the biotransformation of unsaturated fatty acids. Such compounds belong to a class of oxylipins which are reported to perform a variety of biological functions such as anti-inflammatory or cytotoxic activity. These compounds have been found in rice and timothy plants after being infected by specific fungus. When grown in submerged culture with linoleic acid, Pseudomonas 42A2 accumulated in the supernatant several hydroxy fatty acids. In this work LC-MS/MS has been used to elucidate the structure of the components form the organic extract: 9-hydroxy-10,12-octadecadienoic acid; 13-hydroxy-9,11-octadecadienoic acid; 7,10-dihydroxy-8E-octadecenoic acid; 9,10,13-trihydroxy-11-octadecenoic acid and 9,12,13-trihydroxy-10-octadecenoic acid. Antimicrobial activity against several pathogenic fungal strains is presented: MIC (microg/mL) Verticillium dhaliae, 32; Macrophonia phaesolina, 32; Arthroderma uncinatum, 32; Trycophyton mentagrophytes, 64.
    • Impact of process temperature and organic loading rate on cellulolytic/hydrolytic biofilm microbiomes during biomethanation of ryegrass silage revealed by genome-centered metagenomics and metatranscriptomics

      Maus, Irena; Klocke, Michael; Derenkó, Jaqueline; Stolze, Yvonne; Beckstette, Michael; Jost, Carsten; Wibberg, Daniel; Blom, Jochen; Henke, Christian; Willenbücher, Katharina; et al. (BMC, 2020-03-02)
      Background: Anaerobic digestion (AD) of protein-rich grass silage was performed in experimental two-stage twophase biogas reactor systems at low vs. increased organic loading rates (OLRs) under mesophilic (37 °C) and thermophilic (55 °C) temperatures. To follow the adaptive response of the biomass-attached cellulolytic/hydrolytic biofilms at increasing ammonium/ammonia contents, genome-centered metagenomics and transcriptional profiling based on metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) were conducted. Results: In total, 78 bacterial and archaeal MAGs representing the most abundant members of the communities, and featuring defined quality criteria were selected and characterized in detail. Determination of MAG abundances under the tested conditions by mapping of the obtained metagenome sequence reads to the MAGs revealed that MAG abundance profiles were mainly shaped by the temperature but also by the OLR. However, the OLR effect was more pronounced for the mesophilic systems as compared to the thermophilic ones. In contrast, metatranscriptome mapping to MAGs subsequently normalized to MAG abundances showed that under thermophilic conditions, MAGs respond to increased OLRs by shifting their transcriptional activities mainly without adjusting their proliferation rates. This is a clear difference compared to the behavior of the microbiome under mesophilic conditions. Here, the response to increased OLRs involved adjusting of proliferation rates and corresponding transcriptional activities. The analysis led to the identification of MAGs positively responding to increased OLRs. The most outstanding MAGs in this regard, obviously well adapted to higher OLRs and/or associated conditions, were assigned to the order Clostridiales (Acetivibrio sp.) for the mesophilic biofilm and the orders Bacteroidales (Prevotella sp. and an unknown species), Lachnospirales (Herbinix sp. and Kineothrix sp.) and Clostridiales (Clostridium sp.) for the thermophilic biofilm. Genome-based metabolic reconstruction and transcriptional profiling revealed that positively responding MAGs mainly are involved in hydrolysis of grass silage, acidogenesis and / or acetogenesis. Conclusions: An integrated -omics approach enabled the identification of new AD biofilm keystone species featuring outstanding performance under stress conditions such as increased OLRs. Genome-based knowledge on the metabolic potential and transcriptional activity of responsive microbiome members will contribute to the development of improved microbiological AD management strategies for biomethanation of renewable biomass. Keywords: Metagenome assembled genomes, Integrated -omics, Polyomics, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Bioconversion, Microbial community structure, Methane, Metabolic activity
    • Impact of Von Willebrand Factor on Bacterial Pathogenesis.

      Steinert, Michael; Ramming, Isabell; Bergmann, Simone; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-09-03)
      Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a mechano-sensitive protein with crucial functions in normal hemostasis, which are strongly dependant on the shear-stress mediated defolding and multimerization of VWF in the blood stream. Apart from bleeding disorders, higher plasma levels of VWF are often associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Herein, the disease symptoms are attributed to the inflammatory response of the activated endothelium and share high similarities to the reaction of the host vasculature to systemic infections caused by pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria recruit circulating VWF, and by binding to immobilized VWF on activated endothelial cells in blood flow, they interfere with the physiological functions of VWF, including platelet recruitment and coagulation. Several bacterial VWF binding proteins have been identified and further characterized by biochemical analyses. Moreover, the development of a combination of sophisticated cell culture systems simulating shear stress levels of the blood flow with microscopic visualization also provided valuable insights into the interaction mechanism between bacteria and VWF-strings. In vivo studies using mouse models of bacterial infection and zebrafish larvae provided evidence that the interaction between bacteria and VWF promotes bacterial attachment, coagulation, and thrombus formation, and thereby contributes to the pathophysiology of severe infectious diseases such as infective endocarditis and bacterial sepsis. This mini-review summarizes the current knowledge of the interaction between bacteria and the mechano-responsive VWF, and corresponding pathophysiological disease symptoms.
    • Importance of flagella in acute and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

      Lorenz, Anne; Preuße, Matthias; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Grahl, Nora; Pils, Marina C; Nolan, Laura M; Filloux, Alain; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018-11-08)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental microorganism and a causative agent of diverse acute and chronic, biofilm-associated infections. Advancing research-based knowledge on its adaptation to conditions within the human host is bound to reveal novel strategies and targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we investigated the traits that P. aeruginosa PA14 as well as a virulence attenuated ΔlasR mutant need to survive in selected murine infection models. Experimentally, the genetic programs that the bacteria use to adapt to biofilm-associated versus acute infections were dissected by passaging transposon mutant libraries through mouse lungs (acute) or mouse tumours (biofilm-infection). Adaptive metabolic changes of P. aeruginosa were generally required during both infection processes. Counter-selection against flagella expression was observed during acute lung infections. Obviously, avoidance of flagella-mediated activation of host immunity is advantageous for the wildtype bacteria. For the ΔlasR mutant, loss of flagella did not confer a selective advantage. Apparently, other pathogenesis mechanisms are active in this virulence attenuated strain. In contrast, the infective process of P. aeruginosa in the chronic biofilm model apparently required expression of flagellin. Together, our findings imply that the host immune reactions against the infectious agent are very decisive for acuteness and duration of the infectious disease. They direct disease outcome.
    • [Individualized infection medicine : Challenges and opportunities].

      Debarry, Jennifer; Heinz, D; Manns, M P; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-07)
    • Induced B Cell Development in Adult Mice.

      Brennecke, Anne-Margarete; Düber, Sandra; Roy, Bishnudeo; Thomsen, Irene; Garbe, Annette I; Klawonn, Frank; Pabst, Oliver; Kretschmer, Karsten; Weiss, Siegfried; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      We employed the B-Indu-Rag1 model in which the coding exon of recombination-activating gene 1 (Rag1) is inactivated by inversion. It is flanked by inverted loxP sites. Accordingly, B cell development is stopped at the pro/pre B-I cell precursor stage. A B cell-specific Cre recombinase fused to a mutated estrogen receptor allows the induction of RAG1 function and B cell development by application of Tamoxifen. Since Rag1 function is recovered in a non-self-renewing precursor cell, only single waves of development can be induced. Using this system, we could determine that B cells minimally require 5 days to undergo development from pro/preB-I cells to the large and 6 days to the small preB-II cell stage. First immature transitional (T) 1 and T2 B cells could be detected in the bone marrow at day 6 and day 7, respectively, while their appearance in the spleen took one additional day. We also tested a contribution of adult bone marrow to the pool of B-1 cells. Sublethally irradiated syngeneic WT mice were adoptively transferred with bone marrow of B-Indu-Rag1 mice and B cell development was induced after 6 weeks. A significant portion of donor derived B-1 cells could be detected in such adult mice. Finally, early VH gene usage was tested after induction of B cell development. During the earliest time points the VH genes proximal to D/J were found to be predominantly rearranged. At later time points, the large family of the most distal VH prevailed.
    • The intriguing cyclophilin A-HIV-1 Vpr interaction: prolyl cis/trans isomerisation catalysis and specific binding.

      Solbak, Sara M; Reksten, Tove R; Wray, Victor; Bruns, Karsten; Horvli, Ole; Raae, Arnt J; Henklein, Petra; Henklein, Peter; Röder, Rene; Mitzner, David; et al. (2010)
      Cyclophilin A (CypA) represents a potential target for antiretroviral therapy since inhibition of CypA suppresses human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication, although the mechanism through which CypA modulates HIV-1 infectivity still remains unclear. The interaction of HIV-1 viral protein R (Vpr) with the human peptidyl prolyl isomerase CypA is known to occur in vitro and in vivo. However, the nature of the interaction of CypA with Pro-35 of N-terminal Vpr has remained undefined.
    • Involvement of IHF protein in expression of the Ps promoter of the Pseudomonas putida TOL plasmid.

      Holtel, A; Goldenberg, D; Giladi, H; Oppenheim, A B; Timmis, K N (1995-06)
    • Irreversible impact of chronic hepatitis C virus infection on human natural killer cell diversity.

      Strunz, Benedikt; Hengst, Julia; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Björkström, Niklas K; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Shared Science org, 2018-07-25)
      Diversity is crucial for the immune system to efficiently combat infections. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate cytotoxic lymphocytes that contribute to the control of viral infections. NK cells were for long thought to be a homogeneous population of cells. However, recent work has instead revealed NK cells to represent a highly diverse population of immune cells where a vast number of subpopulations with distinct characteristics exist across tissues. However, the degree to which a chronic viral infection affects NK cell diversity remains elusive. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is effective in establishing chronic infection in humans. During the last years, new direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAA) have revolutionized treatment of chronic hepatitis C, enabling rapid cure in the majority of patients. This allows us to study the influence of a chronic viral infection and its subsequent elimination on the NK cell compartment with a focus on NK cell diversity. In our recent study (Nat Commun, 9:2275), we show that chronic HCV infection irreversibly impacts human NK cell repertoire diversity.
    • Isolation of alkali-tolerant benzene-degrading bacteria from a contaminated aquifer.

      Fahy, A; Ball, A S; Lethbridge, G; Timmis, K N; McGenity, T J; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, UK. afahy@essex.ac.uk (2008-07)
      AIMS: To isolate benzene-degrading strains from neutral and alkaline groundwaters contaminated by benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX) from the SIReN aquifer, UK, and to test their effective pH range and ability to degrade TEX. METHODS AND RESULTS: The 14 isolates studied had an optimum pH for growth of 8, and could degrade benzene to below detection level (1 microg l(-1)). Five Rhodococcus erythropolis strains were able to metabolize benzene up to pH 9, two distinct R. erythropolis strains to pH 10, and one Arthrobacter strain to pH 8.5. These Actinobacteria also degraded benzene at least down to pH 5.5. Six other isolates, a Hydrogenophaga and five Pseudomonas strains, had a narrower pH tolerance for benzene degradation (pH 6 to 8.5), and could metabolize toluene; in addition, the Hydrogenophaga and two Pseudomonas strains utilized o-, m- or p-xylenes. None of these strains degraded ethylbenzene. CONCLUSIONS: Phylogenetically distinct isolates, able to degrade BTX compounds, were obtained, and some degraded benzene at high pH. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: High pH has previously been found to inhibit in situ degradation of benzene, a widespread, carcinogenic groundwater contaminant. These benzene-degrading organisms therefore have potential applications in the remediation or natural attenuation of alkaline waters.