Maria de Fátima Carvalho
Biological producers of Natural Fluorinated Compounds as a novel source of relevant degrading microorganisms and biosynthetic mechanisms
Fluoroorganic compounds are finding increasing uses in several applications, thriving in virtually all areas of our society. As a consequence of their diverse uses, these compounds are becoming widespread environmental pollutants and, thus, studying their biodegradation is essential in order to assess their fate in the environment and also to understand their biotransformation mechanisms.
In contrast to this abundance of man-made fluorinated structures, there are very few natural fluorinated compounds with a biological origin. Far as is known, these structures resume to a few monofluorinated compounds that are produced by some tropical and subtropical plants and by a handful of actinomycetes species, with fluoroacetate (FA) constituting the most common produced natural fluorinated compound. This dearth of biogenic fluoroorganics makes the research in this area highly fascinating and extremely attractive for the scientific community, offering an excellent opportunity to find new fluorinated structures or biochemical mechanisms commercially important. There are some evidences suggesting that these natural producers of fluoroorganic molecules, especially FA producing plants, may constitute a good source of microorganisms capable of degrading and/or producing fluorinated compounds. In this context, the present project aims to explore biological producers of fluorinated compounds in order to find efficient fluoroorganics biodegrading activities, namely for compounds structurally related with FA, and, at the same time, to search for potential microbial producers of these compounds.