Research in the Environmental Microbiology/Molecular Biology Laboratory focuses on the genetic and biochemical characterization of methanotrophic metabolism, with a particular focus on:
- Biosynthesis of novel copper-binding compounds that have significant environmental relevance as well as potential medical applications
- Characterization of unique “metal-switches” in methanotrophs that play critical roles in regulating methanotrophic activity
- Use of methanotrophs for control of greenhouse gas emissions
- The role of methanotrophs in mitigating mercury toxicity in situ, and
- The impact of methanotrophic activity on the broader microbial community, including their interactions with other microbes in situ.
Much of our research is curiosity-driven, but always with an eye as how to apply our findings to address important environmental problems, and more recently the application of a novel secondary metabolite produced by methanotrophs (methanobactin) for the treatment of copper-related human diseases, i.e. Wilson Disease. As such, we have several US Patents on various aspects of our work, and are seeking additional patents for some of our current research.