Environmental Remediation Sciences Program


Horizontal Gene Transfer

Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT)

A NABIR sponsored publication.


  • 8/1/08 SciDAC Review. Science for Problems Under the Surface. Processes in Earth's subsurface are central players in several critical, interrelated energy and environmental issues. Leadership-class computing will soon be brought to bear on understanding and predicting these processes across a wide range of time and space scales. Read about it online or download the pdf.

  • 7/18/08 Summary Report for the biomodeling workshop, which will be published in EOS. Download the pdf here. The full report (pdf) is online as referenced in the summary report.

  • 6/12/08 Special Issue of Geobiology Outlines Recent Advances in Understanding Extracellular Electron Transport and Microbe-Mineral Interactions. Numerous ERSP researchers contributed to a special issue of Geobiology dedicated to the memory of Terry Beveridge, a world-renowned geomicrobiologist and long-time NABIR-ERSP grantee. This special issue is a review of the current state-of-the-science in understanding microbe-metal interactions and a fitting tribute to a respected colleague whose scientific breadth spanned this entire area of science. Advances made over the last few years in understanding microbial metabolism at the microbe-mineral interface are detailed in this special issue. Several groups of bacteria are capable of respiring (breathing) solid phase materials that reside outside the cell. How cells accomplish this feat is a topic under intensive investigation within DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER). Microbes with the ability to reduce inorganic materials extracellularly also reduce electrodes in microbial fuel cells, produce soluble organics with electrochemical properties, and influence mineral precipitation in novel ways. These unique traits have implications for understanding the processes that influence contaminant transport, bioenergy production, microbial biofilm formation, intercellular communication and biomineral production.
    Reference: Geobiology, Vol 6(3), June 2008. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/gbi/6/3

  • 4/16/2008. Jenny Druhan, Graduate Student at UC Berkeley was given an "Outstanding Student Paper Award" from the Hydrology Section of the American Geophysical Union for her paper "Sulfur isotopes as indicators of bacterial sulfate processes influencing field scale uranium bioremediation" with authors: Jennifer L. Druhan, Mark E. Conrad, Kenneth Hurst Williams, Lucie N'Guessan, Philip E. Long and Susan S. Hubbard. The paper was presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, in San Francisco in December 2007. The award announcement was published in the April 16, 2008 edition of EOS (vol. 89, no. 15). Congratulations, Jenny!

  • 3/7/2008.  Craig Criddle ERSP-funded research identified as a “Most Cited Article” for 2006 by the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The published manuscript details results obtained from the in situ stimulation of uranium reduction at the Oak Ridge Y-12 site. Congratulations to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Stanford University team!

    Pilot-Scale in Situ Bioremedation of Uranium in a Highly Contaminated Aquifer. 2. Reduction of U(VI) and Geochemical Control of U(VI) Bioavailability
    Wu, W.-M.; Carley, J.; Gentry, T.; Ginder-Vogel, M. A.; Fienen, M.; Mehlhorn, T.; Yan, H.; Caroll, S.; Pace, M. N.; Nyman, J.; Luo, J.; Gentile, M. E.; Fields, M. W.; Hickey, R. F.; Gu, B.; Watson, D.; Cirpka, O. A.; Zhou, J.; Fendorf, S.; Kitanidis, P. K.; Jardine, P. M.; Criddle, C. S. Environ. Sci. Technol.
    (Article); 2006; 40(12); 3986-3995.DOI: 10.1021/es051960u
  • John Zachara, long-time NABIR/ERSP investigator wins DOE's E.O. Lawrence Award, Congratulations John!!
  • 1/02/2006. Dr. Terry Hazen Selected as ERSD (now CESD) Distinguished Fellow: The Environmental Remediation Sciences Division (ERSD (now CESD)) of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) has selected Dr. Terry Hazen from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to be the first recipient of ERSD (now CESD)’s Distinguished Scientist Fellowship. Each of BER’s four divisions is making these competitive awards to reward and encourage continued scientific excellence in support of BER programmatic goals. BER’s Distinguished Fellows are expected to help advance and sustain scientific excellence in biological and environmental research at the National Laboratories. Dr. Hazen has worked within the DOE system for 20 years, first at the Savannah River National Laboratory, and most recently with LBNL. He has conducted pioneering research on subsurface microbiology and microbial bioremediation of solvents and metals. Dr. Hazen will receive $250,000 per year for up to five years while employed at LBNL.
  • 8-31-2005. AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award. Kenneth Hurst Williams of LBNL/UC Berkeley received an outstanding student paper award for presentation of his investigations using geophysical techniques to interrogate stimulated subsurface microbial processes at this year’s Spring AGU Joint Assembly meeting this past May in New Orleans. LA. Awardees names and presentation titles have been published in AGU’s weekly journal EOS (Vol. 86, no. 34, pp. 312, August 23, 2005). Ken is exploring the use of self potential (SP) measurements as a means to monitor and track redox changes induced in the subsurface upon the stimulation of metal and sulfate-reducing conditions. In situ bioremediation processes under investigation within the NABIR program stimulate the activity of naturally-occurring bacteria found in the subsurface to immobilize metal and radionuclide contaminants thereby preventing further transport of these contaminants in groundwater. Ken’s NABIR-supported work is of significance because it demonstrates a potential technique for monitoring the progression of subsurface bioremediation processes using surface deployed techniques instead of expensive drilling operations. This research was recently featured in an Online News article on the website for the journal Environmental Science & Technology and has been accepted for publication in ES&T and is posted on ES&T’s Research ASAP website.
  • 6/23/2005. An Electrifying Discovery: NABIR-supported researcher Dr. Derek R. Lovley of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has made a remarkable discovery that has been published in the journal Nature. Dr. Lovley’s group has found that the metal-reducing microorganism Geobacter produces nanotube projections called pili on the outer cell surface that appear to function as electron conducting nanowires. The data indicates these conductive pili are conduits by which Geobactertransfers electrons onto iron oxides during the process of dissimilatory iron reduction. This is of importance because Geobacter species are detected as a dominant species in the subsurface during stimulated uranium bioremediation, where iron oxide reduction is a dominant process. Discovery of this fundamental mechanism of microbial metal reduction could lead to better models for subsurface bioremediation processes but may also have implications for the electronics field because the conducting pili can be mass produced and pili composition can be altered via genetic manipulation.
    Nature 435, 1098-1101 (23 June 2005)
  • 9/27/2004. The Metallic Secret of Deinococcus radiodurans’ Success: Researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, MD USA report a chemical basis for radiation resistance in the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans, famous for its extreme resistance to X-rays and gamma rays, and the subject of research for 50 years. Cellular accumulation of high levels of manganese (Mn) in combination with low levels of iron (Fe) appears to be key to recovering from radiation in Deinococcus and other resistant organisms. In contrast, Fe-rich, Mn-poor organisms are very sensitive to radiation. Intracellular Mn acts as a scavenger of free oxygen-radicals (antioxidant), whereas Fe does the reverse. The article presents a different view of how radiation kills cells. Previously, DNA damage caused during the course of irradiation was considered to be the overriding cause of cell death. Instead, the paper points to potential therapeutic applications that should be further investigated. For example, it is possible that by restricting the intake of antioxidants in patients undergoing radiation therapy (eg. Mn(II), vitamin E), cancer cells might be rendered more sensitive; and the reverse to facilitate recovery of normal cells after radiation therapy. Development of treatments to protect from radiation injury are also important to manned space flight, workers at nuclear power plants, or in planning responses to a terrorist’s dirty bomb. The USUHS team, led by Dr. Michael Daly, is also dedicated to engineering Deinococcus for cleanup of Cold War radioactive wastes stored at the Hanford Site, Richland, WA, USA and other US Department of Energy waste storage facilities. Originally published in Science Express on 30 September 2004
    Science, Vol 306, Issue 5698, 1025-1028, 5 November 2004
  • Elemental and Redox Analysis of Single Bacterial Cells by X-ray Microbeam Analysis: NABIR program researcher, Dr. Kenneth M. Kemner of Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Dr. Kenneth H. Nealson of the University of Southern California and colleagues appear in the Oct 22, 2004 issue of Science. Dr. Kemner’s expertise is in application of highly focused synchrotron-based x-rays to probe biogeochemical processes occurring at the microbe-mineral interface. The analytical technique developed by Kemner at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) is noninvasive and allows the researchers to interrogate living, hydrated biological samples at the nanometer scale (150nm). Using this microprobe technology, Dr. Kemner and colleagues document changes in morphology and elemental composition of both planktonic (i.e. free-swimming) and surface adhered, single bacteria before and after exposure to high concentrations of toxic Cr(VI). The results show that surface adhered bacteria tolerate chromium better than planktonic cells and accumulate elements such as calcium and phosphorus associated with the production of extracellular polysaccharide (EPS). X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) analyses of surface adhered bacteria implied that Cr(VI) was reduced to Cr(III) within the EPS layer. Several differences also were observed in the distribution of transition metal abundance within surface adhered cells relative to planktonic cells. These results demonstrate that it is now possible to monitor nanoscale changes in elemental composition and redox chemistry within and around a single bacterial cell, an ability that could prove invaluable during investigations of biogeochemical processes in the environment.
    Science, Vol 306, Issue 5696, 686-687 , 22 October 2004
  • The Planet Protectors: Time magazine article with Derek Lovle
  • Mining Bacteria's Appetite for Toxic Waste Researchers Try to Clean Nuclear Sites with Microbes
  • Energy Department-funded Scientists Decode DNA of Bacterium that Cleans Up Uranium Contamination and Generates Electricity
  • Scott Fendorf Wins Soil Science Award
    Dr. Scott Fendorf, Professor of Soil and Environmental Chemistry at Stanford University and long-time NABIR investigator, has received this years Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Soil Science Award. This award is designed to recognize midcareer soil scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the areas of soil chemistry and mineralogy. The award is the Soil Science Society of America premiere midcareer research award for which competition is intense. The principal criteria for the award are: (1)significance and originality of basic and/or applied research in soil chemistry/mineralogy; (2) excellence in creative reasoning and skill in obtaining pertinent data; (3) quality of teaching soil chemistry/mineralogy at undergraduate and/or graduate levels; and (4) total impact of contributions on soil science and other fields, nationally or internationally, as well as on society at large.
  • BIOREMEDIATION: Anaerobes to the Rescue Derek R. Lovley in SCIENCE Magazine
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