Applied Biogeochemical & Bioremediation Studies
To this end our applied research programs investigate the reliance of chemical (Flux) and biological contributors (taxonomy /function) in reclaimed wetland materials and have relied on information from in situ bioreactor(s) from mine sites in the Alberta Oil sands (i.e. Syncrude and Suncor leases) to bioreactors in New Zealand (Stockton mine). Understanding the role of microbial drivers will be crucial for the optimization of chosen bioremediation strategies. Often we have limited understanding of the role of good bacteria (facilitators) vs. bad bacteria (poisoners) in applied technologies, which remain a black box from the perspective of optimum growth and treatment conditions. From a temporal and spatial perspective tracking the taxonomic and functional diversity in different settings (e.g. historically impacted vs. none impacted sites) could allow a better understanding of how applied systems should function. We need to link physicochemical processes to microbial community function using next generation genomics and metatranscriptomic tools. This approach can be used to ultimately define and characterize baseline systems and/or optimize or monitor a chosen applied technology from a failure or functional aspect. Research is ongoing building on our understanding of the role of biotic (bacteria) and abiotic (chemical and geological factors) processes in these disturbed and natural ecosystems.