CEE Seminar, Professor Paige Novak, University of Minnesota

Nov 9

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November 9, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Professor Paige Novak

Professor Paige Novak, University of Minnesota Seminar Title: Unraveling Organochlorine-Respirers and Organochlorine Respiration Abstract Chlorinated organics, produced by man for uses such as degreasing, insulation, and fumigation, are some of the world¿s most hazardous compounds, causing effects from cancer to liver damage. They contaminate tens of thousands of sites in the US alone. About 20 years ago, bacteria that were able to ¿breathe¿ some of these chlorinated compounds (called organochlorine respirers), and thereby detoxify them, were discovered. The fact that some of these bacteria actually required these compounds to grow and survive was thought to be amazing. Scientists and engineers have since debated how these organisms came to be, whether they had a niche in uncontaminated environments, and how we could best harness their abilities to clean up contaminants. Our recent work has focused on determining whether organochlorine respirers have a natural role in the environment, what controls their numbers in uncontaminated sites, and new methods for enriching and potentially isolating them. The overall goal of this work is to develop better and safer remediation methods and begin to unravel global chlorine cycles.