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  The Applied Environmental Microbiology (AEM) Core is the source of environmental data and samples that determine the stressors that will be studied, pro­vides the environments for growing the organisms to be tested, simulates stressed environments, and verifies the conceptual models to determine how these stress regulatory pathways control the biogeochemistry of contaminated sites. The specific goals of the AEM Core are to:

  • Survey and map DOE sites contaminated by metals and radionuclides using chemical and molecular/ microbiological parameters to determine major microbial populations and potential stressors for Desulfovibrio vulgaris, Geobacter metallireducens, and Shewanella oneidensis MR1.

  • Determine the rank priority of these stressors in terms of their ability to affect metal/radionuclide bioreduction by either direct or indirect processes, and to establish the normal active range of the stressor in metal/radionuclide contaminated environments.

  • Determine the incidence and activity of the three target bacteria, and closely related relatives, in the test metal/radionuclide contaminated environments and collect isolates for analysis by the Functional Genomics Core for comparison using 16S RNA profiling.

  • Create defensible environmental simulators that can replicate key features of field site chemical and biological structure to mimic stress conditions for single populations and later for microbial communities (chemostats to soil columns from 10 µm to 1 m size systems).

  • Provide large quantities of cells in various stress states for the Functional Genomics Core’s physiological monitoring facility, molecular interaction studies, and combinatorial chemistry group.

  • Provide environmental simulators for testing stressor effects on mutants, large insert clones, expression analysis, etc., for elucidating critical parts of the stress regulation pathway.

  • Develop testable conceptual models of stress regulatory pathways based on results of the Computational Core that could predict natural attenuation and suggest biostimulatory strategies for immobilization of metals and radionuclides at DOE contaminated sites.

  • Test conceptual models of stress regulatory pathways and effects on contaminate site biogeochemistry using competent soil columns with different levels of complexity over the active range of the stressors.

  • Validate conceptual models using field tests at contaminated sites that utilize specific functional gene arrays developed from the stress regulatory pathways.

  • Alter field conditions or test along gradients to verify stress regulatory model efficiency for predicting natural attenuation or suggesting biostimulatory strategies for immobilization of metals and radionuclides.
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