Main navigation | Main content
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Cornell University, Ph.D.
Physiology and functional genomics of dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria; Microbial interactions with electrodes
Microorganisms that can transfer electrons to extracellular electron acceptors such as insoluble Fe(III) and Mn(VI) oxides play an important role in the ecology and geochemistry of sedimentary and subsurface environments. They produce geologically significant minerals such as magnetite, serve as models for metabolism on ancient Earth, the deep subsurface and possibly other planets, catalyze bioremediation of environments contaminated with petroleum, and bioprecipitate toxic metals such as uranium.
Bacteria able to transfer electrons to metals can be harnessed in technologies that require the precision of enzymes and the adaptability of live organisms. Thus, electricity can be produced directly from wastewater, specific compounds can be synthesized at electrode surfaces, and chemicals can be detected in complex mixtures. We seek to invent new tools able to explore this interface between biology and electricity, identify the molecular basis for this metabolism, and develop novel applications for these organisms.