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Microbial Ecology and Physiology Group

The Microbial Ecology and Physiology Group focuses on microbial ecology and genomics of environmental organisms. The research is concerned with the basic science underlying bioenergy production,  bioremediation efforts, carbon cycling and sequestration, as well as other uses of biotechnology. The research couples molecular biology, DNA technology, genomics, and bioreporter techniques with traditional microbiological methods to investigate microbial communities and the processes by which microorganisms transform materials and energy. The goal of these investigations is to increase the understanding of bioenergy production, microbial ecology, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and microbial degradation of hazardous contaminants; to demonstrate application of innovative microbial techniques and bioremediation approaches in solving the U. S. Department of Energy's (DOE) and the nation's sediment, soil, surface water, and ground water contamination problems; and to transfer new technology to industry. Much of the funding for the group is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER), and by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy.  The group participates in the research conducted at ORNL by the Bioenergy Science Center (BESC).

Further details are on the website. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/bsd/mss/

(Contact: David E. Graham, grahamde@ornl.gov, 865-574-0559 )

Statement of Purpose

Microbial Genomics and Ecology research in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory focuses on microbial ecology and genomics of environmental organisms. The research is concerned with the basic science underlying bioenergy,  bioremediation efforts, carbon cycling and sequestration, as well as other uses of biotechnology. The research couples molecular biology, DNA technology, genomics, and bioreporter techniques with traditional microbiological methods to investigate microbial communities and the processes by which microorganisms transform materials and energy. The goal of these investigations is to increase the understanding of bioenergy production, microbial ecology, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and microbial degradation of hazardous contaminants; to demonstrate application of innovative microbial techniques and bioremediation approaches in solving the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) and the nation's sediment, soil, surface water, and ground water contamination problems; and to transfer new technology to industry. Much of the funding for the group is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER), and by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy


 Research Directions:

  • Create new bioenergy options for the nation though research on ethanol production
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of and factors controlling carbon sequestration in terrestrial and aquatic systems
  • Develop and apply molecular biological techniques, including microarrays, bioluminescence or fluorescence based bioreporters, DNA probes in environmental microbiology, and analysis of 16s rRNA, as tools for monitoring microbial processes in basic ecology, carbon sequestration, applied remediation, and identification of bacteria and their activities.