Research Lecture: Adventures in Anaerobic Bioremediation with Dr. Elizabeth Edwards, U of Toronto

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September 26, 2023
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Engineering, College of #1507
5050 Anthony Wayne
Detroit, MI 48202
Event category: Seminar

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University in conjunction with the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) Foundation, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of Toledo, are pleased to host the 2023-24 AEESP Distinguished Lecturer, Elizabeth A. Edwards, Ph.D., P.Eng. for a presentation on Sept. 26 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The lecture will be held in 1507 Engineering Building, 5050 Anthony Wayne Drive at Wayne State. Refreshments and a poster session will follow the lecture; the university community is invited to attend.

Dr. Edwards is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and Department of Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Toronto. She will present, "Adventures in Anaerobic Bioremediation."


Groundwater contamination is a serious threat to global health and prosperity.  Petroleum hydrocarbons, industrial solvents, pesticides, herbicides, and metals are some of the most frequent culprits.  Some microbes have evolved and adapted to transform or detoxify contaminants. Certain species, such as Dehalococcoides, can dechlorinate the major dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethene and the common industrial solvent trichloroethene to the benign product ethene. Remarkably, these organisms obtain energy for growth from dechlorination, and several successful demonstrations of bioaugmentation, where an aquifer is inoculated with a mixed microbial culture, have led to the development of a viable commercial market for such dechlorinating cultures. By studying enrichment cultures and their megagenomes, we are learning more about novel interspecies interactions in these remarkable, ubiquitous, anaerobic microbial communities, and their specialized enzymes that catalyze reductive dehalogenation reactions.  Benzene is another problematic contaminant, readily degraded under oxic conditions, but highly persistent in anaerobic environments. The anaerobic metabolism of benzene is complex and still largely unknown, yet clues are emerging that reveal novel microbes, pathways and enzymes that could be harnessed for cleanup. Prospects for biodegradation of other contaminants, including the pesticide chlordecone and perfluorinated substances will be discussed.

September 2023