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RESEARCH


“Making a Difference”

My lab's current research involves studies in bioremediation, including microbial fermentation and phytoremediation of both inorganic and organic contaminants, as well as polyculture and plant culturing techniques.  These include laboratory investigations as well as field work.


Bioconversion of Contaminants

I am interested in biological processes that convert environmental contaminants such as heavy metals and excess nutrients into detoxified compounds and commercially valuable products. Our research investigations range from nanoparticle biosynthesis in microbial species to bioremediation in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture.  These include laboratory investigations as well as field work.

Polyculture.  Polyculture studies are being performed in collaboration with fish biologists at Queen’s and the local aquaculture industry.  In these studies plants are being assessed for their ability to clean water used in the culture of fish and for their growth rates as horticultural crops under these conditions.

Metal Biotransformation.  Recent scientific publications include those in the area of metal biotransformation where it was discovered by using bioreactors that a range of microbes can convert metal ions into sulfides with the desirable outcome of low metal bioavailability to other organisms.

Phytoremediation.  Field work includes using tree species such as poplars and willows to remove contaminants from, and stop the migration of contaminated groundwater.  Of particular interest is the removal of dioxane, that is destroyed by light after it has been volatilized from tree leaves.    Furthermore, groundwater movement can be attenuated by high rates of evapotranspiration from trees that have deep root systems.

Biodegradation.  Another research area in bioremediation is exploiting the genetic variation in fungal species that use the enzymes, laccase and peroxidase, to degrade organic chemicals.  From these studies we developed a practical laboratory for our fourth year bioremediation course that was such a success, it was recently published in the journal of biological education, Bioscene.

Culturing for High Root Production.  We have published a very effective means of growing plants to produce large root systems which can then be easily used for studies at the biochemical and molecular levels.  This study employed the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana. (See also the video at top of page).

 

Axenic Arabidopsis

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