Lewis student publishes article on plant enzymes

An article by Nicole Martin, Lewis, a junior at Fort Hays State University, will be published in the March edition of the international journal Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.

Martin has been working on this project with co-author Dr. Brian Maricle, associate professor of biological sciences, for three years.

"Dr. Maricle and I studied the toxic effects of sulfide on enzymes of respiration in plant roots," Martin said. " In our study, we found in some types of plants that this enzyme was still working even when being poisoned by sulfide."

"Nicole recognized the value of research experience, and she was able to make some of the 'higher' connections to link plant cell biology with physical therapy and, therefore, help her professional development," Maricle said. "Some people are exposed to sulfide from sewers, coal-burning plants, landfills, paper mills and wastewater treatment plants, making this work of interest in several contexts."

"Without the activity of this enzyme, respiration cannot be completed, therefore no energy is produced, and the organism either cannot live or has to figure out another way to produce energy," Martin said.

Maricle said that, on a molecular level, sulfide is 10 times as toxic as cyanide.

"Sulfide exposure is thought to have been a powerful agent driving evolution of life in early Earth conditions," he said. "Understanding mechanisms of sulfide tolerance could therefore have relevance for understanding evolution of life, ecological structuring of some aquatic environments, and also potentially has implications for human health."

Martin is majoring in biology at Fort Hays State University and plans to have a career in physical therapy. She is a 2012 Quinter High School graduate.

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