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Department Seminar Series - Scott Banta, Ph.D.



Date & Time

November 19, 2021, 2:00 pm3:00 pm


This event is part of the Fall 2021 CBEE Department Seminar Series.

Engineering of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans for Biofuel, Biomining and Biotechnology Applications

Scott Banta, PhD 

(he, him)
Professor and Vice Chair of Chemical Engineering
Columbia University

Dr. Scott Banta,'97, chemical engineering is the 2021 Alumni Award winner for the College of Engineering and Information Technology. 


Metal oxidizing bacteria are critically important for the hydrometallurgical processing of copper, gold and other sulfidic ores.   More than 25% of the world’s copper production involves microbial oxidation of minerals in the world’s largest bioreactors.  And the microbial induced corrosion of metals is a long standing challenge in a range of industrial and military applications.  We have been developing biochemical and genetic tools for the engineering and application of the iron and sulfur oxidizing chemolithoautotroph, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans.  These cells are key members of the microbial consortia found in industrial biomining operations, and they have been involved in some microbial induced corrosion activities.  And their unique physiology is thought to be compatible with life on Mars.  We have developed a series of tools for the engineering of these cells and we have demonstrated the first engineered strains able to produce exogenous biochemicals from atmospheric CO2 in an “electrofuels” process.  We have also developed new insights into their physiology and the relationships between their metal and sulfur oxidizing phenotypes.  This has enabled us to elucidate new mechanisms for the microbial oxidation of stainless steels.  We have recently demonstrated the integration of foreign transgenes into the A. ferrooxidans genome, and recent progress on the introduction of new genetic tools will be discussed.  This talk will also highlight the substantial challenges that occur during the engineering of non-model extremophile host organisms. 

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