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Protein Sequences Help Scientists Decipher Uranium Bioremediation Processes
Published: November 02, 2009
Posted: November 06, 2009

Native microbes in subsurface environments interact with contaminants, play a role in modifying contaminant mobility in the subsurface environment and can be used as part of biology-based remediation strategies. A multi-disciplinary, multi-institution team of investigators working at a field research site in Rifle, CO, (a former uranium mill tailings site managed by the DOE Office of Legacy Management) characterized the genomes of the dominant microbial populations and the proteins they expressed (proteomics), demonstrating that an understanding of cell metabolism can be used to diagnose the status of subsurface microbial communities involved in uranium bioremediation and as monitors of environmental processes in general. Changes in microbial central metabolism, energy generation and microbial strain composition over time reflected the changing geochemical conditions stimulated in situ during the field test. The results yielded important insights into the functioning of subsurface microbial communities, providing mechanistic information that can used to inform models of uranium bioremediation. This "proteogenomic" approach enables scientists to study the mechanistic basis for the growth and functioning of active microbes and microbial communities in the environment.

Reference: Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 2009, 75(20): 6591-6599

Contact: Robert T. Anderson, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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