Objectives: To characterise and harness the microbial ecology of subsurface environments and develop microbial technologies to enhance pollutant biodegradation and biogas production.
Extensive laboratory and field programs using contemporary anaerobic culturing and molecular microbial ecology techniques have been deployed. These include low flow sampling techniques, biostimulation, bioaugmentation, DNA extraction and sequencing, quantitative PCR, crystallography, genomics, microscopy, proteomics and analytical chemistry.
Extensive data sets describe key microorganisms in groundwater ecosystems for bioremediation and biogas production and community shifts in response to field manipulations. Field data sets spanning five years describes successes and failures of manipulating microbial communities to enhance pollutant (organochlorine) biodegradation at contaminated sites in NSW and Victoria and biogas production from coal seams at the Lithgow State Coal Mine, NSW.
We have discovered and described bacteria of commercial relevance to biotechnology application in groundwater environments. We have demonstrated effective bioremediation strategies for sustainable clean-up of organochlorine contaminated groundwater including biostimulation and bioaugmentation approaches. These microbial technologies have been commercialised through establishment of biotech start-up Novorem Pty Ltd. We have also demonstrated at field scale a commercially relevant enhancement of biogas production from coal seams with implications for the global coal bed methane industry.