Using Biofilms to Extract Minerals

Ecology and Environment

MSI PI Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (director, BioTechnology Institute; professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) is leading a project to develop biofilms that would have the capability to extract metals from mining or electronic waste products. This would be much more sustainable than conventional mining methods. The researchers are working on a way to combine Bacillus subtilis, a safe, common, and fast-growing bacterium, with a microbe known for its ability to bind metals, Deinococcus radiodurans. Eventually, it is hoped this project could have applications beyond capturing metals. The project recently received a grant of nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation.

A story about this research project appears on the College of Biological Sciences website: A More Sustainable Approach to Mining?

Professor Schmidt-Dannert uses MSI for two areas of research: developing pharmaceuticals from fungi and plants, and engineering more efficient metabolic and biocatalytic functions and systems.