Marine bacteria first discovered off the coast of Puerto Rico more than 50 years ago could one day help clean up toxic pollutants in the environment.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego researchers uncovered a new enzyme in marine bacteria that evolved to remove bromine from carbon. Bromine is one of four highly reactive members of the elemental group known as halogens that are also commonly found in man-made industrial chemicals such as pesticides and flame retardants.