Oremland Laboratory: Microbes from Extreme Environments that Metabolize Toxic Group 15 and 16 Elements.

Professor Oremland studies hypersaline/alkaline soda lakes located in western Nevada and eastern California along with their attendant hot springs. These “extreme” environments, because of their proximity to volcanic activity, are also rich in toxic elements like arsenic, antimony, selenium, and tellurium. The microorganisms that live in these locations are not only adapted to tolerate high concentrations of these toxicants, but they can also exploit the chemical redox reactions displayed by these substances to gain energy for growth. The work has relevance towards understanding the hydrologic mobility of these substances in nature, their potential use in environmental bioremediation, and exploitation in nano-technological photonic applications. Aspects of this research are particularly relevant with regard to astrobiology and the search for life’s origins on Earth and elsewhere in our Solar System.

Dr. Oremland has an adjunct appointment at UCSC, with his main laboratories located at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA. He has close collaborative ties with Dr. Saltikov, and will accept graduate students from MTEX and PBSE programs for joint mentoring.