As a result of NCESR funding, a microbial enrichment culture surviving on hydrogen and calcium carbonate was determined to produce acetate and methane. Nicole Fiore, a graduate student funded to examine the physiological capability of the enrichment, was intrigued not only by the implications for carbon cycling on Earth but also on other planets (or moons). She developed a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship proposal to expand upon current knowledge of microbial metabolisms under extreme conditions, specifically those that alter planetary or lunar minerals. As part of Nicole’s NSF fellowship, she will investigate microbially-catalyzed carbonate transformations under alkaline conditions, expanding on current NCESR funding. pseudocolor-carbonate This opportunity will help her develop the skills necessary for a career in astrobiology so she can continue to research questions that contribute to our overall understanding of the universe.
Nicole is working with Dr. Karrie Weber in the School of Biological Sciences. The NCESR funded project is entitled “Microbial Electrosynthetic Conversion of CO2 and Carbonates into Biogas and Bioproducts”.