375:540 Bioremediation

Instructor: Kustka
Terms Taught: Spring
Credits: 3

Course Description
Bioremediation describes the environmental applications of microbes (mostly bacteria and fungi) to remediate contaminated soils and waters. Remediation can be accomplished by breaking down or altering toxic compounds to compounds that are less or non-toxic, or by immobilizing toxic contaminants to retard their movement into non-contaminated areas.  To best understand the potential for bioremediation of a site, one must have a thorough understanding of the microorganisms present in the subsurface (or proposed organisms for introduction), the chemistry of the interaction between the microbes and contaminant of interest, the rates of bioremediation, and the in situ factors that influence these rates.

This course will explore how microbes transform contaminants in soils and groundwater with a requisite overview on microbial physiology and how microbes interact with environmental conditions present at bioremediation sites.  There will be emphases on molecular methods developed to detect impacted sites, to monitor the effectiveness of bioremediation and/or the presence of contaminant degrading organisms, and the development of genetically modified organisms to deal with contaminants.  In this regard, there will be significant discussion of the legal and social factors that influence the potential use of GMOs for bioremediation.
 

Learning Objectives
• Achieve an understanding of the microbiological and energetic underpinnings of microbially mediated contaminant remediation in soils and groundwater.
• Achieve an understanding of microbial physiology and how microbes interact with environmental conditions present at bioremediation sites.
• Understand how molecular methods are developed and utilized to detect impacted sites and to monitor the effectiveness of bioremediation and/or the presence of contaminant degrading organisms
• Understand how genetically modified organisms can be used to deal with contaminants, and the social and legal factors that influence their potential use.

Pre-requisites: One semester of general chemistry and one year of general biology.