In the Gieg laboratory, we aim to understand how microorganisms impact the energy industry either beneficially (e.g., bioremediation) or detrimentally (e.g., microbial corrosion of infrastructure).  Using combined tools of cultivation, analytical chemistry, and molecular biology, we seek to:

1.  Elucidate novel biodegradation pathways of different classes of hydrocarbons and related compounds
     under aerobic or under highly reduced conditions (e.g., sulfate-reducing and methanogenic conditions)  

2.  Understand the associated biochemical and enzymatic mechanisms 

3.  Identify key consortia and isolate species involved 

4.  Investigate the ecological constraints on the metabolism of hydrocarbons and related compounds

In determining the fundamental science underlying hydrocarbon biodegradation, we can begin to formulate universal themes of metabolism and apply what we learn to important environmental problems or energy-related systems such as:

  • Anaerobic bioremediation at fuel-contaminated sites

  • Enhanced energy recovery via the bioconversion of oil to methane in marginal oilfields (MEOR)

  • Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)

  • Paraffin biodegradation or prevention

  • Heavy oil formation and recovery via microbial activity

  • Enzyme biotechnology for improved energy recovery

  • Oil sands tailings ponds biotreatment and detoxification

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