A variety of research projects, with an emphasis on applied microbiology in anaerobic systems, are underway in the laboratory. We are applying a broad-based approach for finding solutions to general problems in applied microbiology. Thus, while individual projects appear unrelated on the surface, they are actually different facets of a larger overall research program.
For example, our work on microbially enhanced oil recovery, molecular phylogeny of anaerobic bacteria, isolation of novel microbes from marine environments, description of novel halophilic eubacteria, examination of industrial biocides and methanogenesis from metals all relate to the overall problem of understanding and controlling microbial activities in subterranean environments.
An advantage of this broad-based approach lies in the discovery of new microorganisms and new phenomena in microbiology. We are characterizing a new genus of microbe from a subterranean oil reservoir (no light there) that is very closely related to phototrophic bacteria, a metabolically diverse acetogen that can also produce liquid fuel from coal gas, and unusual halophilic eubacterium that makes pyruvate as an end-product of metabolism and can degrade limestone. We are also investigating a novel formate-dependent biosynthetic reaction found in methanogens (this is still in the preliminary stage).
For more information about this program, contact the Department or Dr. Ralph Tanner.