Institute of Thermal Biology Seminar: Dr Bradley Lusk
TBI is pleased to welcome Dr Bradley Lusk to this week’s seminar. Dr Lusk will present “Thermophiles; or the modern Prometheus: employing extreme microorganisms to understand extracellular electron transfer and
expand participation in STEAM.
Dr Bradley Lusk is currently Science and Technology Policy Advisor to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where he specializes in water quality monitoring for development projects and is the Manager of program for Climatelinks.org, outward-facing climate communication. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) website. He is the CEO and Founder of Science the Earth, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization promoting interpersonal and social development and awareness by integrating science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) with the local and global community. He is also CEO and co-founder of Precient Technologies, LLC, a biotechnology company that uses microorganisms in a membrane biofilm reactor to remove and recover precious and harmful metals from contaminated water, while providing access clean water for the world’s most vulnerable people. . His research focuses on elucidating the transfer of electrons and protons between extremophilic / thermophilic bacteria, cable bacteria and their environment, with the aim of discovering ways to exploit these phenomena for wastewater treatment and generation of energy from waste, and to elucidate 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.
About four billion years ago, the first microorganisms to thrive on Earth were probably anaerobic chemo-autotrophic thermophiles, a specific group of extremophiles that survive and function at temperatures of 50 to 125 ° C and no. do not use molecular oxygen (O2) for respiration. Instead, these microorganisms effected 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 near the root of the bacterial kingdom on the tree of life. On the contrary, EET in mesophilic Gram-negative 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 the result of a convergent evolutionary process leading to homoplasia. Thus, the study of dissimilatory metal-reducing thermophiles provides insight into some of Earth’s earliest forms of respiration, offering new perspectives for understanding biogeochemistry, early Earth development, and for exploration and discovery in astrobiology. . Finally, the physiological composition of Gram-positive thermophiles, coupled with the kinetic and thermodynamic consequences of survival at high temperatures, make them ideal candidates for developing new mathematical models and designing innovative next-generation biotechnologies. In this presentation, I will explain how electrochemical studies on biofilms can be used to answer fundamental questions about the mechanisms of early forms of respiration.
During the conversation, I will also discuss ways to promote broad participation in science, including a community-led project on cave microbes that was published in the Official Journal of the National Speleological Society (Journal of Cave & Karst Studies).