Problems 2019

Problems of the extramural stage of BioTournament 2019

1. Only after dark.

Molecular hydrogen is a promising alternative to fossil fuels due to its high energy, storage capabilities, the ability of fuel cells to directly convert hydrogen into electricity, and moreover when hydrogen is burned, only water is formed. The photosynthetic production of hydrogen by microalgae is a potential source of renewable clean energy because algae use only water and sunlight to form hydrogen. The enzyme Fe – Fe hydrogenase catalyzes the production of hydrogen with extremely high rates, but this process takes place after dark adaptation and stops after several minutes in the light which limits the large-scale use of microalgae for hydrogen production. Consider the possible mechanisms of the cessation of the photosynthetic hydrogen production and suggest ways to overcome these limitations of the large-scale use of microalgae for hydrogen production.

The problem’s author is  Marina A. Kozuleva, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University.

2. Immigraniada

Each species has its own habitat, but increasingly it is possible to meet populations outside the original range. This situation is called “biological invasion”. During the invasion, alien species may die without spreading to the new territory, can master the vacant ecological niche or displace the native species and expand the boundaries of their range. Often, invasive species have a negative impact on native ecosystems.

At the moment, there are not so many multilateral studies of biological invasions, especially if we are talking about an unintended invasion of a species into an ecosystem (in contrary to introduced species). There are various studies of different aspects of biological invasion, but it is rather difficult to give a comprehensive assessment of this phenomenon.

Suggest a biological invasion research strategy and quantitative methods for predicting the viability of an invasive species population and its further impact on the recipient ecosystem.

The problem’s author is Valeria V. Adamova, Belgorod State University.

3. Ouroboros

Bacteriolytic enzymes of microbial origin, for example, produced by bacteria of the genus Lysobacter, are of great interest to biomedicine as an alternative to antibiotics. However, the native producer strain, as a rule, is not able to synthesize these enzymes in sufficient quantities. Expression of recombinant genes of lytic enzymes, in particular in E. coli, may be accompanied by lysis of producer bacteria. In addition, for the secretion of these enzymes, a specific secretory system is needed, the analogs of which are not always present in the microorganisms used. Develop an efficient expression system for producing bacteriolytic enzymes on a production scale, using the α-lytic protease of the microorganism Lysobacter enzymogenes as an example.

The problem’s author is Irina V. Kudryakova, Ph.D., researcher at the laboratory of cell surface biochemistry of microorganisms, IBPM RAS, “Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research”. 

4. Grab everything from the crab

In the waters of North Pacific Ocean, as well as in the Barents Sea, every year about ten thousand tons of Red king crab is caught. Processing of crab is associated with a large amount of waste that is thrown into the sea. This waste includes hepatopancreas, which contains highly active digestive enzymes. However, large-scale processing of the red king crab hepatopancreas is still not conducted, which is associated with the difficulty of collecting, storing and transporting and, accordingly, the high cost of this raw material. Suggest solutions to the problems associated with scaling up the process of processing the red crab hepatopancreas.

The problem’s author is Evgeny A. Sogorin, Ph.D., Head of the Laboratory of Applied Enzymology, “Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research”.