Environmental and Industrial Microbiology

Olli H. Tuovinen

Olli H. Tuovinen


Ph.D., University of London, 1973

Environmental and Industrial Microbiology.

Several projects are underway in my laboratory that combine microbial metabolism and ecology with environmental disciplines. Examples of current studies include (1) the biodegradation of pesticides and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, (2) microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of acid mine drainage, (3) microbial solubilization and weathering of minerals, and (4) microbial processes in landfills.
(1) Biodegradation is by far the single most important factor in the attenuation of pesticides in soils. Biodegradation rates vary with bioavailability and presence of organisms with degradative capabilities in soils and subsurface environments. We have previously investigated the degradation of phenoxyalkanoic acid and chloroacetamide herbicides and our current focus is on the pre-emergent weed killer atrazine. This compound has a symmetric, N-heterocyclic aromatic structure and has no known natural analog in the nature.
Annual applications of atrazine are known to enhance biodegradation rates in agricultural soils, and this acclimation effect has also been reported for many other herbicides. Biodegradation rate constants and the corresponding half-lives may vary by two orders of magnitude between soils with different histories of atrazine application, including reference soils with no prior exposure. Such kinetic differences reflect phenotypic and genotypic variation in soil microbial communities.
Complete biodegradation of atrazine involves dehalogenation, N-dealkylation, deamination, and ring-cleavage steps. Several genes of the atrazine degradative pathways have been described in the literature. The genes provide the basis for the characterization of soil microbial communities by molecular techniques such as DNA probes and PCR amplification, cloning, and sequencing. In addition to agricultural soils, we have also used these approaches for describing atrazine-degrading microbial communities in natural and constructed wetlands.
Biodegradation is also most important in the natural attenuation of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons; these compounds are highly nonpolar and sorb on soil and sediment particles. The scope in our studies is to assess the biodegradation potential of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in compost materials and in sediments impacted by hydrocarbon pollution and stormwater runoff. The biodegradation potential yields useful information for assessing the fate and kinetics of the biodegradation of these compounds in environments impacted by anthropogenic sources. Such information may be useful in designing bioremediation strategies for solid waste materials.
(2) Mine drainage constitutes a serious water pollution problem in many metal and coal mine areas. Treatment methods of acid mine water include constructed wetland systems to remove acidity and metal ions. Our approach to elucidating microbial ecology in constructed acid mine wetlands has been based on using 16S rDNA-based techniques. With emphasis on non-culturable approaches, we have use PCR amplification with universal and genus/species specific phylogenetic primers, cloning and sequencing, RFLP, DGGE, and FISH to characterize microbial communities in a constructed wetland system treating acid coal mine water. Geochemical and mineralogical changes with time have been described by analysis of pore water and iron precipitates in aerobic and anaerobic zones of the constructed wetland.
(3) The dominant bacterial groups in constructed mine drainage wetland systems are aerobic, iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. These acidophilic bacteria are also involved in the oxidative dissolution of sulfide minerals in ore deposits and coal refuse piles. A long-term study in my laboratory has been to characterize dissolution processes using research-grade minerals as well as ores and concentrates. These bacteria have application for processing of copper-, uranium-, and precious metal-containing ore materials in the mining industry. We have also shown that anaerobic sulfate reducing-bacteria can also be involved in biogeochemical transformations by using solid-phase electron acceptors.
(4) Microbial processes in conventional landfills are usually limited by low moisture content. This dry tomb technology of landfill management is contrasted by landfill bioreactor approaches, which aim to accelerate waste decomposition and landfill gas production through leachate circulation. Our studies in landfill bioreactor technology are aimed at optimizing environmental conditions conducive to anaerobic microbial activities and assessing nutrient deficiency conditions for landfill materials.
Projects in my laboratory have prospective in remediation and other applications with interdisciplinary approaches, but the foundations are firmly based on microbial biochemistry, ecology, and physiology. Many of the research problems under study in my laboratory involve biogeochemical redox reactions, interfacial reactions, and molecular ecological approaches that help design microbiological strategies competitive in environmental investigations.


Recent Publications

Hao, Y., W.A. Dick, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. PCR amplification of 16S rDNA sequences in Fe-rich sediment of coal refuse drainage. Biotechnology Letters 24:1049-1053.


Nicomrat, D., W.A. Dick, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. Molecular bacterial ecology of Fe(III)-precipitates in a constructed wetland treating acid coal mine water. Paper No. 614. In: Transactions of the 17th World Congress of Soil Science, p. 614-1 to 614-9. Bangkok, Thailand.


Ostrofsky, E.B., J.B. Robinson, S.J. Traina, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. Analysis of atrazine-degrading microbial communities in soils using most-probable-number enumeration, DNA hybridization, and inhibitors. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 34:1449-1459.


Anderson , K.L., K.A. Wheeler, J.B. Robinson, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. Atrazine mineralization potential in two wetlands. Water Research 36:4785-4794.


Bevilaqua, D., A.L.L.L. Leite, O. Garcia Jr., and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. Oxidation of chalcopyrite by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans in shake flasks. Process Biochemistry 38:589-594.


Stamper, D.M., M. Radosevich, K.B. Hallberg, S.J. Traina, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2002. Ralstonia basilensis M91-3, a denitrifying soil bacterium capable of using s -triazines as nitrogen sources. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 48:1089-1098.


Karnachuk, O.V., S.Y. Kurochkina, D. Nicomrat, Y.A. Frank, D.A. Ivasenko, E.A. Phyllipenko, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Copper resistance in Desulfovibrio strain R2. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 83:99-106.


Carlstrom, C.J., and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Mineralization of phenanthrene and fluoranthene in yardwaste compost. Environmental Pollution 124:81-91.


Li, Y., W.A. Dick, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Evaluation of fluorochromes for imaging bacteria in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 36:737-744.


Liu, Q., K.M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Biomass accumulation and carbon utilization in layered sand filter biofilm systems receiving milkfat/detergent mixtures. Bioresource Technology 89:275-279.


Kang, Y.W., K. M. Mancl and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Biological treatment of turkey processing wastewater with coarse/fine sand filtration. In: Animal, Agricultural and Food Processing Wastes (Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium), p. 44-49. American Society of Agricultural Engineers, St. Joseph, MI.


Xi, J., K.M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2003. Transformations and accumulation of carbon in gavel/sand filters treating cheese processing wastewater. In: Animal, Agricultural and Food Processing Wastes (Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium), p. 341-349. American Society of Agricultural Engineers, St. Joseph, MI.


Radosevich, M., and O.H. Tuovinen. 2004. Microbial degradation of atrazine in soils, sediments and surface waters. In: Pesticide decontamination and detoxification (ACS Symposium Series No. 863) (J.J. Gan, P.C. Zhu, S.D. Aust, and A.T. Lemley, Eds.), p. 129-139. American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C.


Li, Y., W.A. Dick, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2004. Fluorescence microscopy for visualization of soil microorganisms � a review. Biology and Fertility of Soils 39:301-311.


�tyriakov�, I., T.M. Bhatti, J.M. Bigham, I. �tyriak, A. Vuorinen, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2004. Weathering of phlogopite by Bacillus cereus and Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 50:213-219.


Rowan, M.A., K. M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2004. Clogging incidence of drip irrigation emitters distributing effluents of differing levels of treatment. In: On-site Wastewater Treatment X(Proceedings of the Tenth National Symposium on Individual and Small Community Sewage Systems), p. 84-91. American Society of Agricultural Engineers, St. Joseph, MI.


Xi, J., K.M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2005. Carbon transformation during sand filtration of cheese processing wastewater. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 21:271-274.


Karnachuk, O.V., N.V. Pimenov, S.K. Yusupov, Y.A. Frank, A.H. Kaksonen, J.A. Puhakka, M.V. Ivanov, E.B. Lindstr�m, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2005. Sulfate reduction potential in sediments in the Norilsk mining area, northern Siberia. Geomicrobiology Journal 22:11-25.


Kang, Y.K., K.M. Mancl, and O. H. Tuovinen. 2005. Feasibility of renovating turkey processing wastewater using fixed film bioreactors. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual Technical Education Conference, 9 p. National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, Cleveland, OH.


Gaur, R.S., L. Cai, K.M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2005. Pretreatment of animal fat through coarse sand filters. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual Technical Education Conference, 10 p. National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, Cleveland, OH.


Rowan, M., K.M. Mancl, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2005. Performance of drip irrigation emitters distributing primary and secondary wastewater effluent. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual hnical Education Conference, 9 p. National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, Cleveland, OH.


Rzhepishevska, O.I., E.B. Lindstr�m, O.H. Tuovinen, and M. Dopson. 2005. Bioleaching of sulfidic tailing samples with a novel, vacuum-positive pressure driven bioreactor. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 92:559-567.


Stamper, D.M., J.A. Krzycki, D. Nicomrat, S.J. Traina, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2005. Ring-cleaving cyanuric acid amidohydrolase activity in the atrazine-mineralizing Ralstonia basilensis M91-3. Biocatalysis and Biotransformation 23:387-396.


Nicomrat, D., W.A. Dick, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2006. Assessment of the microbial community in a constructed wetland that receives acid coal mine drainage. Microbial Ecology, in press.


Wang, H., J.M. Bigham, and O.H. Tuovinen. 2006. Formation of schwertmannite and its transformation to jarosite in the presence of acidophilic iron-oxidizing microorganisms. Materials Science and Engineering C, in press.

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