Thermal Biology Institute Seminar: Dr. Bradley Lusk
- Monday, September 20, 2021 from 3:10pm to 4:00pm
- Plant Biosciences Building, 108 - view map
TBI is pleased to host Dr. Bradley Lusk at this week's seminar. Dr. Lusk will present “Thermophiles; or the modern Prometheus: Employing extreme microorganisms to understand extracellular electron transfer and
broaden participation in STEAM.”
Dr. Bradley Lusk currently serves as a science and technology policy advisor with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where he specializes in monitoring water quality for development projects and is the program manager for Climatelinks.org, the outward facing climate communications website, at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He is the CEO and founder of Science the Earth, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization encouraging interpersonal and social development and awareness by integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) with the local and global community. He is also the CEO and co-founder of Precient Technologies, LLC- a biotechnology company that uses microorganisms in a membrane biofilm reactor to remove and recover valuable and harmful metals from contaminated water, while providing access to clean water for the world’s most vulnerable people. His research focuses on elucidating electron and proton transfer between extremophilic/ thermophilic bacteria, cable bacteria, and their environment, for the purpose of discovering ways to harness these phenomena for wastewater treatment and the generation of energy from waste, and for elucidating the respiratory mechanisms for ancient life. He has published in several peer reviewed research journals related to microbiology, environmental engineering, chemistry, biogeochemistry, electromicrobiology, and STEAM education.
Approximately four billion years ago, the first microorganisms to thrive on earth were likely anaerobic chemoautotrophic thermophiles, a specific group of extremophiles that survive and operate at temperatures 50 - 125°C and do not use molecular oxygen (O2) for respiration. Instead, these microorganisms performed respiration via dissimilatory metal reduction by transferring their electrons extracellularly to insoluble electron acceptors. Genetic evidence suggests that Gram-positive thermophilic bacteria capable of extracellular electron transfer (EET) are positioned close to the root of the Bacteria kingdom on the tree of life. On the contrary, EET in Gram-negative mesophilic bacteria is a relatively new phenomenon. This suggests that EET evolved separately in Gram-positive thermophiles and Gram-negative mesophiles, and that EET in these distinct bacterial types is a result of a convergent evolutionary process leading to homoplasy. Thus, the study of dissimilatory metal reducing thermophiles provides a glimpse into some of Earth’s earliest forms of respiration, providing new insights for understanding biogeochemistry, the development of early Earth, and for exploration and discovery in astrobiology. Lastly, the physiological composition of Gram-positive thermophiles, coupled with the kinetic and thermodynamic consequences of surviving at elevated temperatures, makes them ideal candidates for developing new mathematical models and designing innovative next-generation biotechnologies. In this presentation, I will elucidate how electrochemical studies on biofilms can be employed to answer fundamental questions about the mechanisms of the earliest forms of respiration.
During the conversation, I will also discuss ways to promote broad participation in science, including a community lead project investigating cave dwelling microbes that was published in the official journal of the National Speleological Society (Journal of Cave & Karst Studies).
Join in person or via WebEx: https://montana.webex.com/montana/j.php?MTID=m215310754974e032e3f585ff6701bb03