Superfund Research Program
Engineering the Physico-Chemical Environment to Enhance the Bioremediation of Developmental Toxicants in Sediment Fungal-Bacterial Biofilms
- Project Summary
This project aims to develop a precision bioremediation framework for the treatment of Superfund sites contaminated with PAHs which harnesses the cross kingdom degradative capacity of fungi and bacteria. To date, the research team has successfully characterized bacterial and fungal microbiomes at several Superfund sites and, through a combination of experimental and computational approaches, developed a library of fungal and bacterial candidates for bioremediation. During the last funding period, the team focused on expanding their fungal library to include a range of fungi with the ability to secrete multiple extracellular enzymes capable of targeting PAHs. The team also performed proof of concept studies to measure the toxicity of microbial transformation by-products using a combination of assays. Finally, the team further refined their microbiome models to identify key bacterial targets for biostimulation at each of the Superfund sites. Despite their successes identifying microbial targets for bioremediation, the field implementation of their precision bioremediation framework remains challenging due to the innate heterogeneity of soil and sediments as well as the limited availability of genetic information for their candidate microbes. To address this challenge, the team is sequencing several of their microbial targets and will use this information to further refine their framework. In the long term, this information will be incorporated into metabolic models that will inform future field deployment activities. Overall, the results suggest that a cross kingdom precision bioremediation approach shows promise for reducing PAH concentrations in contaminated sediments.