"Environment" research area

Advanced Biocomposite Materials for Bioremediation

Primary Investigator - Claudia Schmidt-DannertPrimary InvestigatorClaudia Schmidt-Dannert
Co-InvestigatorsAlptekin Aksan
Industry PartnersMinnepura
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar 

Problem: Across the state of Minnesota we face a variety of environmental contamination challenges, from heavy metal contaminated mine drainage streams in the north to pesticide and fertilizer compromised soils across our fertile farmlands. Bioremediation can be used to treat contaminated water or soil, but the techniques vary greatly depending on the contaminant and specific remediation needs of each ecosystem.

Solution: Encapsulins are bacterial proteins that have evolved to sequester heavy metals, thereby detoxifying bacterial cells. Encapsulin-based “Biohubs” encased in silica for preservation will be developed as a stable, adaptable, and reusable bioremediation material that can be modified with high specificity for a range of applications and contaminants.

Impact: Encapsulin-based Biohubs will be an economically feasible bioremediation solution because they use inexpensive silica as an encasement and can be manufactured using pre-existing microbial production systems. The high adaptability and stability of Biohubs provide numerous bioremediation applications for this biomaterial, including heavy metal sequestration and organic pollutant detoxification.